The Flinchum File
Thoughtful Economic Analysis and Existential Opinions

When Trains Collide

09/28/2018

There were no winners in the Kavanaugh – Ford reality show yesterday.  This national embarrassment continues. However, there was one clear loser —  the New York Stock Exchange, where the trading volume dropped 50%, as traders were glued to the show. Productivity declines when workers watch trains collide.

Tiny Crack

09/27/2018

There is a tiny crack in the Fortress Economy of the United States.  Corporate earnings per share (EPS) are slowing.  They have been increasing at a 25% annual rate so far this year, but that is obviously not a sustainable rate.  It has to slow down somewhat. Most companies try to manage expectations and provide … Continue reading Tiny Crack

Confident and Cocky

09/26/2018

The relentless flow of good economic data can become boring.  Indeed, the latest Consumer Confidence Index is the highest in eighteen years.  Remembering that a confident consumer will spend more money than a frightened consumer and that consumer spending is about two-thirds of GDP, this new data suggests continued strong economic growth and even stronger … Continue reading Confident and Cocky

Thank you, California

09/25/2018

It seems unnatural to applaud bureaucrats anywhere, but the bureaucrats of the European Union are doing more to protect the privacy of their citizens than the august Congress of the United States.  Europe now has the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).  Fortunately, the state of California has rushed in to fill the American vacuum left … Continue reading Thank you, California

First Law of Political Economy

09/23/2018

Watching Will Ferrell reprise his impersonation of former President George W. Bush on Saturday Night Live, one is reminded of the first law of Political Economy.  His portrayal showed the formal President essentially saying “I know history says I was an awful President, but don’t I look pretty good now, compared to President Trump?”  Bush was blamed … Continue reading First Law of Political Economy

NOT Sharing the Burden

09/21/2018

Many times, I have written about the “bad rap” that globalization has been receiving, recalling the Clinton-Gingrich push through Congress.  At that time, numerous economists talked about the benefits of globalization but reminded the Congress that there would be losers.  Numerous Congressmen promised job re-training and even relocation benefits for those workers, whose jobs were … Continue reading NOT Sharing the Burden

Repeat After Me

09/20/2018

“I will not do business with any financial advisor who does not use an independent third-party custodian!” The Feds just broke up yet another Ponzi scheme.  This one caused a $364 million loss from 230 innocent investors.  If anything is unusual about this particular Ponzi scheme, it is that some financial advisors actually fell victim.  … Continue reading Repeat After Me

The Budget Vacuum

09/20/2018

Economics is about the allocation of limited resources to satisfy unlimited needs. There are about 35 thousand gun deaths each year in the U.S.  Another 45 thousand die of strokes, and about 35 thousand die from opioid abuse.  That is every year!  Only a cumulative of 120 people have died from terrorism attacks in the … Continue reading The Budget Vacuum

Death of A Good Idea

09/18/2018

Obama was right.  Trump is wrong. Stockbrokers are very different from registered investment advisors (RIAs).  Stockbrokers can charge all sorts of hidden fees and follow the “suitability” standard, which allows them to put mutual funds into a client’s portfolio that pay kickbacks to the stockbroker.  They even increase the price of bonds and make the … Continue reading Death of A Good Idea

THE High Crime

09/17/2018

Apparently, Mueller has “flipped” Manafort, who will now testify against Trump.  I would caution my Democratic friends to be less gleeful.  Impeachment is a terrible thing.  It is bad for the country.  I was opposed to the impeachment of Clinton, and I am opposed to the impeachment of Trump. With one exception! If Mueller finds … Continue reading THE High Crime

Death, Taxes and ….

09/14/2018

I listened to an interesting lecture yesterday.  Some laws of nature are immutable.  Water runs downhill.  Moths are attracted to lights, and poor people are attracted to wealth. Just as certain as death and taxes, there will be immigration.  Reflecting Paul Erlich’s iconic 1970’s The Population Bomb, the speaker predicted social chaos by 2030 or just … Continue reading Death, Taxes and ….

09/13/2018

The bookstore at the University of Pennsylvania/Wharton has always been a favorite of mine.  It was always such a pleasure to leaf through the new books, but that bookstore has changed in two ways. First, there are fewer books.  Of course, many books are now electronic, on Kindles, etc.  In addition, information is now cheap. … Continue reading

Driving Away

09/12/2018

Sitting on my balcony here on the beach, the weather is delightful – warm, gentle breezes with low humidity.  Yet, I am looking at white sea gulls but thinking about Black Swans.  You know, Black Swan events are those events that happen suddenly, with no warning but seem utterly predictable in hindsight.  Far offshore right … Continue reading Driving Away

Just A Red Shoe ?

09/11/2018

On September 11th of each year, we stand and remember the almost three thousand people murdered by sick, crazed terrorists in New York and Washington.  Certainly, our hearts still go out to those victims and their families. But, I also think about the collaterally damaged people, like our next door neighbor, who worked in the … Continue reading Just A Red Shoe ?

Here, Here . . . Mr. President

09/11/2018

1.  Call me shallow, but I enjoy watching NFL football games. 2.  Color me patriotic, but I think the First Amendment is fundamental and is actually worth defending. 3.  Paint me pointy-headed, but I believe race relations are still incredibly and inexcusably poor. 4.  Thus, I defend the right of NFL players or anybody else … Continue reading Here, Here . . . Mr. President

F

09/10/2018

Economists have flunked and have let America down!  All we have done is provide the intellectual ruse that the two political parties use to indulge their worst impulses. For the Republicans, we have provided “supply-side” economics, which argues that all tax cuts improve the economy at all times and under all circumstances.  For the Democrats, … Continue reading F

Honor or Laughs?

09/08/2018

I was deeply moved by the death of John McCain, whom I respected deeply for his heroics in standing up to his captors and standing up to his own political party when he thought proper.  Oddly, I am also moved by the death of Bert Reynolds but for very different reasons.  McCain aspired to a … Continue reading Honor or Laughs?

Too Soon To Know

09/07/2018

President Trump is justifiably concerned about our nation’s ongoing trade deficits.  At first blush, the latest results are not encouraging.  For the first seven months of this year, the deficit is a whopping $22 billion more than last year.  It doesn’t appear that his worldwide trade war is making much progress. But, it is premature … Continue reading Too Soon To Know

The Mainstream . . . Media(s)

09/06/2018

News Flash:  Fox News is NOT “fair and balanced” . . . but neither are CNN nor MSNBC. Fox is more interested in complaining about “mainstream news” even though Fox has more viewers that CNN and MSNBC – combined. Doesn’t that make Fox the mainstream media that it criticizes? The other two have breathless coverage … Continue reading The Mainstream . . . Media(s)

Prepping For The Apocalypse ?

09/05/2018

I have often written that investors are less fearful of economic recessions.  There is ample research that “buy and hold” makes sense during such recessions.  It is impossible to predict the exact top or exact bottom.  The level of cash can be adjusted, but only so much that a person can sleep at night. Likewise, … Continue reading Prepping For The Apocalypse ?

MORE!

09/04/2018

Scratch any financial advisor, asking how much a person should save for retirement, and the answer is always “MORE”.  That is more than a flip response. Scratch most prospective retirees, asking how much of their income that they will need in retirement, and the answer is usually 70% of current income.  That is more than … Continue reading MORE!

Military Honor

09/03/2018

Existentialists generally have a low regard for “pomp and circumstance” or ceremonies, finding them to be hollow exercises, all form and no substance.  They are unneeded constants in a fluid world.  We generally avoid them at all costs. Still, the 2 1/2 hour ordeal that was the funeral for John McCain seemed too short.  We … Continue reading Military Honor

Entirely Different Predictions

09/01/2018

Predicting an economic recession is difficult enough, even with tons of economic data.  For example, we learned this week that GDP grew at a 4.2% annualized rate during the second quarter (Q2).  This is very strong growth, indeed.  Consumer confidence is at a 17-year high.  Not surprisingly, Consumer Spending is robust.  The economic data tells … Continue reading Entirely Different Predictions

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