The Flinchum File

Thoughtful Economic Analysis and Existential Opinions
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Welcome to The Flinchum File

I am an Accredited Investment Fiduciary at Bay Capital Advisors, an investment firm headquartered in Virginia Beach, VA. After retiring from Truist Bank, I started this firm to work more closely with a smaller number of clients, and it has been great! Our client load is about 25% of the national average.

Writing is not for the shy or the meek. It exposes a person’s mind and character. I hope you enjoy the view.

A Favorite Metric

Many people think all economic downturns are recessions – just mild recessions and severe recessions.  Actually, there is a difference between a recession and a financial crisis.  (The latter shares some characteristics with a Black Swan event.)  Recessions are generally predictable events, while a financial crisis is much less predictable, like 2008.  Of course, neither is a medical crisis. When our current medical crisis began,…

Lessons From the Black Death

The 1984 book by Norman Cantor entitled “In the Wake of the Plague” is a surprisingly good read about the bubonic plague (also known as the black death or the pestilence) in the mid-fourteenth century.  It is not a long book, but it is densely written.  There was some interesting data, such as the estimate that a staggering 30-50% of all Europeans died.  Also, there…

From Anger to Sorrow

Exactly forty-five years ago, on April 29, 1975, the last helicopter lifted off the roof of the American embassy in Saigon, taking the last Marines, the U.S. Ambassador, and the U.S. flag to the command ship Blue Ridge waiting offshore.  It was the heartbreaking end to a twenty-year war from 1955 to 1975.  As I watched it on television, with rising anger, I kept asking…

“In the Wake of the Plague”

The 1984 book by Norman Cantor entitled “In the Wake of the Plague” is a surprisingly good read about the bubonic plague (also known as the black death or the pestilence) in the mid-fourteenth century.  It is not a long book, but it is densely written.  There was some interesting data, such as the estimate that a staggering 30-50% of all Europeans died.  Also, there…

Premeditated ?

I have a friend who is very intelligent, as well as a very independent thinker.  Recently, when I told him to stay safe during this pandemic, he took issue with the word pandemic, saying it was a PLANdemic, as it was planned by such evil people as Bill Gates.  I just thought Gates was  the world’s richest nerd??  My friend then suggested I see this…

The Great Disconnect

Warren Buffet had a mentor named Benjamin Graham, who said the stock market is “a voting machine in the short run and a weighing machine in the long run.”  In other words, it is nothing more than a popularity contest in the short run, with the prettiest stocks winning.  However, in the long run, the stock market carefully evaluates the balance sheets, income statements, marketing…

How Will You Know ??

A few half-truths, along with some glaring omissions, can produce a dangerous weapon.  If you can confuse somebody, you can control them. As an example, take a look at this:  https://www.aier.org/article/liberate-america-from-this-draconian-lockdown-video/ How many half-truths did you hear?  How many obvious issues were ignored? Still, the Tea Party does force some important questions.  How do you stage a reopening of the economy?  Germany reacted much quicker…

Again ?

Much has been written about the Great Depression during the 1930’s.  It is usually focused on the economic history, such as unemployment reaching 25%.  Reading can give a mental image, but only seeing gives a visual image.  For most people, the only visual image of that history would be the food lines, with hundreds of men standing for hours for a bowl of soup.  To…

Change ?

For fourteen years, I have written a quarterly column for “Inside Business” — the business journal of the “The Virginian-Pilot” newspaper.  It is a quarterly review about economic booms and busts, Republicans and Democrats, even war and peace.  Now, I suspect we are approaching an important inflection point.  Just as the 9-11 tragedy changed the way we travel and caused the loss of thousands of…

Mom Was Right

During World War II, the President made extensive use of his war powers by ordering factories to manufacture war materiel.  Of course, that cannot be done overnight.  Likewise, it cannot be undone overnight either.  Shortly after my father returned from the war in Europe, manufacturing actually dropped 5.4% in only ONE month.  That hasn’t happened since then . . . until last month, when it…

Binge-Watching Pain

Two things happen during a quarantine.  First, you will gain fifteen pounds, which is called the “quarantine fifteen.”  Second, some millennial will convince you the only way to appreciate television is by binge-watching some show.  It changes the television experience, they say.  That means you will spend hours studying overly-complicated plots or fictional characters you don’t care about.  Actually, you begin to understand more than…

Post-Quarantine

In 1990, former President Richard Nixon wrote “Six Crisis” – a history of each crisis that he faced during his presidency.  Since he was the first President I ever voted for, I eagerly read the book shortly after publication.  While I remember little of the six individual crisis, I never forgot the primary lesson he learned. The most dangerous time during a crisis is immediately…

Quarantine Chore #4

Stop being afraid of trusts!  They are a great tool for financial planning, especially estate planning – nothing more – just a tool.  It is like being afraid of a hammer – it’s just a tool. A trust is a legal entity, just like you are a legal entity.  (The President might even call a trust a “fake person.”)  It exists, just like you exist,…

A View from Philly

My favorite investment pundit has long been Dr Jeremy Siegel of Wharton.  He assumes (1) the pandemic will be over by year-end, (2) that there will be massive monetary and fiscal stimulus, (3) that the coronavirus curve will be flattened, (4) that a vaccine will be developed and made available, and (5) that reliable contact tracing technology will be developed quickly.  Based on that, he…

A Silver Lining

At last count, there are 165 economic reports and countless financial reports issued each month.  We have a great deal of analytical data.  When the bubonic plague swept across England in the 1340’s, they did have any data for us to study.  Fortunately, there are numerous anecdotal reports. This particular wave of the pandemic killed 30% of the population but 40% of the working age…

Everything is Relative

For almost eight months, from September of 1940 until May of 1941, the German Luftwaffe bombed London 71 times, dropping 18,000 tons of high explosives.  Thirty thousand civilians were killed and another fifty thousand were wounded.  Tens of thousand buildings were destroyed, and hundreds of thousand people were homeless.  They lived in the rubble without electricity or water or a predictable food supply for months. …