The Flinchum File
Thoughtful Economic Analysis and Existential Opinions

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 … Continue reading A Favorite Metric

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 … Continue reading Lessons From the Black Death

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 … Continue reading From Anger to Sorrow

“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 … Continue reading “In the Wake of the Plague”

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 … Continue reading Premeditated ?

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 … Continue reading The Great Disconnect

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: 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 … Continue reading How Will You Know ??

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 … Continue reading Again ?

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 … Continue reading Change ?

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 … Continue reading Mom Was Right

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 … Continue reading Binge-Watching Pain



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 … Continue reading Post-Quarantine

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 … Continue reading Quarantine Chore #4

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 … Continue reading A View from Philly

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 … Continue reading A Silver Lining

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 … Continue reading Everything is Relative

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