The Flinchum File
Thoughtful Economic Analysis and Existential Opinions

The Conceit of Choice

05/25/2019

Carl Richards is a long-time financial planner and my favorite columnist for The New York Times.  (Truth-in-blogging:  I took his course on behavioral finance a few years ago and have been a fan ever since.)  In his latest book, he shares an interesting personal story, which I quote: Take my recent experience with my dog, Zeke.  … Continue reading The Conceit of Choice

One-Handed Clap

05/23/2019

Kudo, Mr. President! There are two types of immigration:  legal and illegal.  Looking at legal immigration, there are two main categories.  One is family reunification, accounting for 66% of legal immigrants, and the other is “merit-based”, accounting for 12%.  The President has proposed the “merit-based” allocation be increased to 57% of legal immigrants, while reducing … Continue reading One-Handed Clap

Not-Ready-For-Prime-Time

05/21/2019

In 19th century England, textile workers were threatened by the development of new automated textile equipment.  They rioted several times and destroyed many of the new machines.  They were called Luddites, which has come to mean anybody who is distrustful of new technology.  With respect to technology, there seems to be only two opinions – … Continue reading Not-Ready-For-Prime-Time

“The Big Four”

05/20/2019

Carolyn McClanahan is both a medical doctor and a CFP(r) Professional.  I first met her at a NAPFA (National Association of Personal Financial Advisors) convention some years ago and have been a fan ever since.  She recently wrote about the importance of planners helping clients make “The Big Four” decisions. The first decision is when … Continue reading “The Big Four”

An Expected Slowdown – No Big Deal

05/17/2019

The first quarter (Q1) of GDP was surprisingly strong at 3.2%.  This was higher than expected, due to two things.  One, imports dropped considerably, showing the impact of tariffs.  Two, inventories increased more than expected, also reflecting the build-up before tariffs took effect.  Only one person thought that growth rate was sustainable. The early second … Continue reading An Expected Slowdown – No Big Deal

Divided Loyalties ?

05/16/2019

Recently, I attended a lecture by Raghuram Rajan, formerly chief economist of the IMF and the central banker of India and currently at the University of Chicago.  He spoke about his new book The Third Pillar, which argues a strong, long-lasting nation needs three pillars.  The first is efficient, effective government, along with a growing, … Continue reading Divided Loyalties ?

Who’s the Client ?

05/15/2019

As we sit here, waiting for the next school shooting, it might be useful to consider the NRA’s deepest fear – allegedly – which is that the slippery-slope of responsible gun ownership leads to total confiscation of our weapons by “the” government.  Okay, let’s suppose that’s true and that gun ownership is outlawed. There are … Continue reading Who’s the Client ?

The Price of Truth

05/14/2019

Larry Kudlow is my favorite Supply-side economist.  A long-time CNBC contributor, he is a gentleman, in the finest sense of the word.  He is a master at disagreeing agreeably.  I like him and respect him! Today, he is the President’s principle economic advisor and must help advance the President’s economic agenda.  Last weekend, he admitted … Continue reading The Price of Truth

The Approach of Doom ????

05/13/2019

As I write this, the Dow is down about 700 points.  One of my favorite market sages pointed out this morning that “we’re only one tweet away from a new high!”  Yes, the market is just that volatile now and could turn around quickly (which means it is dangerous to short anything).  Obviously, the market … Continue reading The Approach of Doom ????

A Really Expensive Good Idea

05/13/2019

Efficiency is a good thing, right? Is increased efficiency a good thing?  Depends on the price, of course. Blockchain is a digital platform where buyers and sellers can separately enter information, confirming each other’s info.  It will increase efficiency and reduce accounting costs, especially with international trade finance.  Therefore, “good guys” like it.  It is … Continue reading A Really Expensive Good Idea

Three Brainy Thoughts

05/10/2019

There were three interesting takeaways from my recent class on brain health.  One was, if a person is very concerned about approaching brain disease such as dementia, make sure they have completed their financial and estate plan BEFORE getting the medical diagnosis.  If they do have onset of brain disease, they may lack the ability … Continue reading Three Brainy Thoughts

Existential Economics

05/07/2019

I have been a financial planner since dinosaurs roamed the land.  Okay, maybe not that long, but I have watched the evolution of financial planning for a very long time.  In the early years, our focus was on rationalizing or making sense of a person’s financial assets and coordinating that with their estate plan. With … Continue reading Existential Economics

Save NAFTA II

05/06/2019

Back in 1972, I worked through the math supporting the economic Law of Comparative Advantage, which explained how globalization increased GDP, and I have been a “globalist” ever since, even now when it is an unpopular position.  In fact, most economists are still globalists, even if they won’t currently admit to it.  But the globalization … Continue reading Save NAFTA II

Because Decency Matters

05/02/2019

William Weld was the governor of Massachusetts and is now a candidate for the Republican nomination for President in 2020. I made a donation to his campaign this morning and urge others to consider doing likewise. Go to: https://www.weld2020.org/donate

Debt Ceiling

05/01/2019

In case you missed it, my last quarterly column for Inside Business argues that the debt ceiling does more harm than good. The column can be found at: https://pilotonline.com/inside-business/news/columns/article_fecaf2c0-5ace-11e9-a648-33d438ae14b0.html

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