The Flinchum File
Thoughtful Economic Analysis and Existential Opinions

The Real Gold Standard

03/31/2020

Readers know my description of bitcoin has always been  that it is an elegant solution to a non-existent problem.  One of the supposed benefits of bitcoin is that it was a store-of-value during a crisis.  Well, during this crisis, the price of bitcoin has fluctuated over a wide range between $13,208 and $6,320 during the … Continue reading The Real Gold Standard

The French Front

03/30/2020

Greg and Joan Wright are longtime friends, who retired in Virginia Beach, before fulfilling their dream to live France.  I miss them!  From time-to-time, Greg updates his friends on life in France.  As a retired lawyer, he writes well, with a distinctive wry style.  They are experiencing the pandemic in ways both similar and different … Continue reading The French Front

The Trauma of War

03/29/2020

President Trump rightly said that he is waging a war against an invisible enemy.  Estimates of fatalities from this war range from a high of 2 million Americans to a low of only 80 thousand over six months — truly horrific!  While all deaths are tragic, some comparison with “normal” wars against a visible enemy … Continue reading The Trauma of War

In Praise of Math

03/26/2020

Dr. Jeremy Siegel is a celebrated professor at Wharton and author of “Stocks for the Long Run.”  He is also my longtime favorite investment thinker.  I’ve read his books and listen to him whenever possible.  Yesterday, I listened to him again and realized that there is a disconnection that has been bothering me.  He argued … Continue reading In Praise of Math

A Thank-You Note

03/25/2020

My father was a fireman.  He was always a little embarrassed that he was “just” a blue-collar worker.  As a boy, I imagined him running into burning buildings and thought he was a genuine hero.  Even after the firemen of New York proved their heroism during the 9-11 tragedies, when America lauded its firemen and … Continue reading A Thank-You Note

AOC Wins . . . and Dick Cheney too!

03/24/2020

In 2002, Republican Vice President Dick Cheney said “Reagan proved deficits don’t matter.”  Unfortunately, his comment unleashed a serious question – do deficits really matter at all?  Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) emerged from that discussion and has since been popularized by Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC). Under MMT, the U.S. Treasury can spend ANY amount … Continue reading AOC Wins . . . and Dick Cheney too!

Quarantine Chore #3

03/23/2020

If you are one of the millions under a Stay-At-Home order, if you are one of the millions “working-from-home”, if you are retired and worried, the first thing you should do is turnoff the television.  You can do nothing about it, and it ruins your day.  How about using your time more wisely . . … Continue reading Quarantine Chore #3

A better perspective . . . ?

03/21/2020

Every profession has its own professional association, and every professional association has conferences, where some professionals gather in the bar during the evenings.  Gray-headed professionals often snicker at the innocence of younger professionals, especially if they are not there. When gray-headed investment strategists gather in the bar, the classic “put-down” used for absent younger strategists … Continue reading A better perspective . . . ?

NOT. . . A Bunch of Monkeys

03/19/2020

The difference between a barbarian and an intellectual is more than just a change of clothes. All my life, I’ve heard the evil government is going to take my guns and my property.  That is simply irrational.  Maybe, some people have a need for paranoia?  Nonetheless, gun sales are already up 17% this year, with … Continue reading NOT. . . A Bunch of Monkeys

Odd Thanks

03/18/2020

Barely a decade ago, the nation was sliding into a recession, one that became known as the Great Recession for good reason.  Like the Great Depression, the financial sector was at the heart of those economic problems.  In 2010, Congress required banks of all types to increase capital, as a buffer to absorb future losses, … Continue reading Odd Thanks

Coronanomics 101

03/18/2020

This recession is very different than any before.  It started as a biologic crisis and is rapidly morphing into an economic crisis.  There are some hints that it MAY continue morphing into a financial crisis, but there is almost no sign of a credit crisis yet. The descent into this particular recession is not particularly … Continue reading Coronanomics 101

Quarantine Chore #2

03/17/2020

For those retired workers and for those newly stay-at-home workers — that insist on watching their portfolio shrink daily — let’s talk about something you will soon need . . . a Will. A Will is a legal document that specifies what happens to a person’s assets upon death.  Like a court-appointed lawyer, if you … Continue reading Quarantine Chore #2

03/16/2020

On October 19, 1987, my boss was winging across the Atlantic on the company plane to honeymoon with his new wife.  Telecommunications in 1987 were relatively primitive by today’s standards, so he was relatively late receiving the news that the Dow just dropped a terrifying 22.6%, almost entirely in the last two hours of trading.  … Continue reading

The Long Arc ?

03/16/2020

If World War II made the Greatest Generation see life in more absolute terms of black or white, good or evil . . . If Vietnam made the Baby Boomers more distrustful of both leaders and institutions . . . If the 9-11 attack on America made Gen-Xer’s more patriotic . . . If the … Continue reading The Long Arc ?

Quarantine Chore #1

03/15/2020

For those working from home and finding a little less work to do, this is the first in a series about using that gift of time. The most common misconception in financial planning is that the title of something doesn’t matter.  WRONG!  It is very important.  Most people think “Oh, I’ve got a Will that … Continue reading Quarantine Chore #1

Leadership ?

03/14/2020

When the Titanic hit the iceberg, the captain didn’t say “I don’t take responsibility at all.”  No, he manned-up and went down with the ship.  He didn’t blame his crew or his predecessor.  He was a real man and . . . a real leader. Typically, that was the actual quote from our current President, … Continue reading Leadership ?

. . . for a while . . .

03/13/2020

While studying at three different universities, I enjoyed many courses in finance and economics.  But, I only had one course in biology and none in epidemiology, which is actually the most important – for a while. Sometimes, the rules of investing get suspended – for a while.  For example, diversification is a good thing.  That … Continue reading . . . for a while . . .

The “Q” Word

03/12/2020

There is a quarantine in your future.  Staying inside your own home is not the worst thing that can happen, assuming you actually like the other people in your household.  In addition to stocking the pantry for a minimum of 14 days, just plan for a “staycation.”  Make sure you have that book you’ve been … Continue reading The “Q” Word

V or U or L ?

03/10/2020

It was less than ten years ago, May 6th, 2010 at 2:36 PM, that the stock market quickly dropped a thousand points.  Thirty-six minutes later, the market had regained the thousand points.  This became known as the “Flash Crash.”  Because the bottom resembled the letter “V”, analysts still speculate whether downturns will be V-shaped, U-shaped, … Continue reading V or U or L ?

Kudos 4 Jim ?

03/10/2020

It was 12 months ago that I predicted a recession this year.  Brownie points for me!  But, I expected it might be caused by a financial crisis, instead of a biological crisis.  No brownie points for me!  If I had thought about the problem of Russia’s struggle to dominate OPEC, this current oil crisis would … Continue reading Kudos 4 Jim ?

Good = Bad ?

03/09/2020

For most families, the monthly mortgage payment is their biggest expense, which is largely determined by the interest rate.  The lower the rate, the more affordable the mortgage.  Over the last year, millions of Americans have refinanced their mortgages at lower interest rates, improving their monthly cash flow.  That’s great, isn’t it?? Investors know the … Continue reading Good = Bad ?

The 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 Punch

03/09/2020

A month ago, the sky was blue, birds were singing, and the stock market was at a record high.  Then, things started to change.  First, there was rumbling about some virus outbreak in China, but President Xi assured us they had it well contained.  Move along, he said, nothing to see here. Second, Wall Street … Continue reading The 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 Punch

Pandemics Matter

03/07/2020

The first outbreak of bubonic plague was in the 6th century and killed 25-50 million people, estimated at half of the world’s population. The next outbreak of bubonic plague was called “The Black Death” in 1347 and killed another 25 million people.  It took 200 years for the world’s population to regain that population level. … Continue reading Pandemics Matter

Daddy, Are We There Yet?

03/05/2020

Anybody who has ever traveled by car with a child remembers the repetitive question of “are we there yet?”  Over and over again!  That is the current perspective of investors traveling through this major correction in the stock market – “is it over yet?” Remember:  The stock market HATES uncertainty.  When uncertainty rises, the stock … Continue reading Daddy, Are We There Yet?

Old Habits Die Hard

03/03/2020

The Pentagon has often been accused, unfairly,  of always preparing to fight the last war.  During the initial build-up in Vietnam, they sent two Armor battalions, one into the Mekong Delta and the other into the highlands.  Unfortunately, tanks don’t do well in swampy jungles nor with long supply lines without roads.  Right objective, wrong … Continue reading Old Habits Die Hard

Rolling Recessions

03/01/2020

I have long preached that an economic recession is different than a financial recession, which is far worse.  (Think 2009)  A financial recession always triggers an economic recession, but an economic recession does not always trigger a financial recession. Personally, I believe that I can smell a financial crisis coming on.  I look for sudden … Continue reading Rolling Recessions

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