The Flinchum File
Thoughtful Economic Analysis and Existential Opinions

Emotional Numbness

10/29/2017

The President has declared opioid usage a national health emergency, and I applaud anything to help those people trapped in addiction.  Missing from the discussion, however, is the historical sweep of drug addiction.  There has never been a time in my lifetime that there was NOT a drug problem of some type. As a boy, … Continue reading Emotional Numbness

Cold Reality

10/28/2017

Iceland is a fascinating little island-nation with a population of a mere 335 thousand, much less than the city of Virginia Beach for example.  Often called the “land of fire and ice,” it is indeed a land of contrasts from glacier-covered active volcanoes to magnificent art galleries.  Despite a jaw-breaking language, the population is remarkably … Continue reading Cold Reality

A Fake Hatchet Job ?

10/27/2017

Hundreds of times, I’ve posed the question of “is 6% a good portfolio return?”  The answer, of course, is — it depends!  If you take very little risk and get a 6% return, it is a good return.  If you take a lot of risk and only get a 6% return, it is a terrible … Continue reading A Fake Hatchet Job ?

Parsing Capital Goods Orders

10/26/2017

Economists have been waiting for the economic data to become misleading due to the impact of our terrible hurricane season.  Fortunately, the monthly “durables report” helps separate the one-time data from the more durable.  It is one of the more important monthly reports. Overall, capital goods order rose another 2.2% in September, following a 2.0% … Continue reading Parsing Capital Goods Orders

It Matters

10/25/2017

Janet Yellen has been Chairman of the Federal Reserve System since the retirement of Ben Bernanke, but her term expires in February, and President Trump is looking for her replacement.  She has indicated that she would like to continue in her current job, but is opposed by the Area 51 Republicans primarily because she was … Continue reading It Matters

Clear Sailing

10/23/2017

As a long-time member of the National Association of Business Economics, I follow their surveys closely.  In their latest, it is clear they see no prospect of recession during the next two years.  Here are some thoughts: Look at the sharp rise in earnings from the third quarter (Q3) of this year to the next … Continue reading Clear Sailing

A Time and A Place

10/12/2017

During the Great Depression, Democrats faced a moribund economy and needed to jump-start it.  To do so, they adopted Keynesian economics which calls for deficit spending.  This is sometimes called “demand-side” economics and is the mirror image of “supply-side” economics, which has been adopted by Republicans. One calls for the government to increase its demand … Continue reading A Time and A Place

Losing Our Focus

10/11/2017

Political parties are obstacles to clear thinking.  My Democratic friends are incensed that Trump & Company colluded with the Russians, while my Republican friends call it a “big nothing-burger.”  Their thinking is polluted.  Neither has identified the all-important issue:  THE RUSSIANS HACKED OUR ELECTION!  We should be talking about punishment for the Russians.  We must … Continue reading Losing Our Focus

Good Guy Finished First

10/10/2017

University of Chicago professor Richard Thaler wins this year’s Nobel prize for economics for his groundbreaking discovery that human beings are . . . well, human! You see, for the sake of convenience, economists have always assumed that people act rationally, in their own best interest.  Supply-siders like to believe taxpayers would set aside any … Continue reading Good Guy Finished First

Third Quarter Wrap-Up

10/06/2017

For those interested in my latest column for Inside Business, you can read it here: https://pilotonline.com/inside-business/news/columns/third-quarter-outlook-economy-chugging-along-expert-column/article_e2f86efe-3ee9-559c-a7a8-31576b0f61c1.html 

Labor Market

10/06/2017

Even though the United States LOST 33 thousand jobs in September, the jobs-market is HOT!  The unemployment rate is only 4.2%.  The more important U-6 level of unemployment, which includes the long-term unemployed and those only marginally attached to the workforce, like those who hold serial part-time jobs, has fallen to only 8.3%, which is … Continue reading Labor Market

Advantage: Males ?

10/04/2017

On the first Monday of each month, the Department of Labor releases its closely-watched “jobs report.”  Democrats focus on the unemployment rate and advocate more help for the unemployed.  Republicans focus on the labor force participation rate (LFPR) and complain people are obviously lazy.  (The LFPR loosely measures what proportion of the population either works … Continue reading Advantage: Males ?

One More Time

10/03/2017

I like guns. How many times have I started a blog with that simple statement?  After each mass tragedy, I try to explain all gun owners are not gun nuts and not all gun nuts are “Area 51” Libertarians.  There are degrees of madness. My father originally taught me about guns, when I was a … Continue reading One More Time

Letting Grudges Go

10/02/2017

Many times, my late mother cautioned me not to carry a grudge.  She wisely said the weight of that grudge gets heavier over time. I’ve just finished watching the epic new documentary by Ken Burns on “The Vietnam War” and  thought of her advice frequently.  That film is a seminal and definitive work on a … Continue reading Letting Grudges Go

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