The Flinchum File
Thoughtful Economic Analysis and Existential Opinions

Monday’s Autopsy

11/14/2018

The market was already nervous before the 9:30 AM open on Monday.  Higher and higher interest rates were bad enough, but the market was also frightened by a senior trade negotiator who predicted a long, slow fight with China, with no end to the trade war in sight.  Then, the world’s largest company, Apple, was … Continue reading Monday’s Autopsy

Weak Snorting

11/13/2018

My investment outlook is evolving.  Two months ago, the economic data was unrelentingly bullish.  Now, cracks have appeared (see both ISM reports).  This does NOT suggest the recession that investors fear.  Not all recessions are created equal. The stock market has been propelled over the past year or so by rapidly rising corporate earnings (EPS).  … Continue reading Weak Snorting

Busybody Advisors

11/10/2018

You should always shower and brush your teeth.  You should always respect your elders and do your homework.  And, you should always get a professional financial plan designed exclusively for you and then follow every detail. While I am a Certified Financial Planner professional, I haven’t prepared a written “financial plan” in years.  My initial … Continue reading Busybody Advisors

What’s Wrong With Young People?

11/08/2018

My parents were part of the “Greatest Generation” and had a rather low opinion of my generation of “baby boomers.”  We were a bunch of dirty, long-haired, pot-smoking, commie-hippies who were too self-involved to love our country.  Of course, that was before we got jobs, babies, and mortgages.  Now, we-boomers look down our boomer-noses at … Continue reading What’s Wrong With Young People?

And, The Beat Goes On

11/01/2018

It takes hip boots to wade through the governmental reports issued each day.  In one obscure report by the Treasury Department on Monday, they estimated that they will have to issue bonds (or take on debt) at a faster pace.  The debt to be issued in FY 2019 is 17% more than FY 2018 but … Continue reading And, The Beat Goes On

Cycles of Civility

10/31/2018

History teaches us that the current period of incivility we are experiencing is not unique.  In the 19th century, some Congressmen had fistfights on the floor of Congress and at least one pulled a gun on another.  Eventually, the cycle of civility returned to normal.  Regrettably, we have entered another cycle. I think President Trump … Continue reading Cycles of Civility

What Reality ?

10/30/2018

Robert Doll is the Chief Equity Officer of Nuveen and a CNBC favorite.  His latest Commentary is instructive.  He reminds us of ten things: 1.  U.S. economic growth remains solid. 2.  Manufacturing levels may come under pressure. 3.  The outlook for global growth may have weakened recently, but we see no near-term signs of significant … Continue reading What Reality ?

One More Insane Tragedy

10/29/2018

Somebody, please explain paranoia to me!  Every religion feels they are being persecuted for their faith.  The lunatic who slaughtered the innocent Jews in Pittsburgh did it because Jews were slaughtering Christians . . . What?  Like I said, lunatic! If any faith has a documented claim on being persecuted, it is the Jewish faith.  … Continue reading One More Insane Tragedy

Downward and Onward?

10/28/2018

Most investors were sorry to see the Dow drop almost 300 points last Friday.  However, I was sorry it didn’t drop 1,000 points.  Stock market corrections don’t hit bottom until there is some degree of panic, which flushes stock out of “weak hands.” I know this slump is not a financial crisis, as I watch … Continue reading Downward and Onward?

Paging P.E.T.A

10/26/2018

There are many colorful expressions on Wall Street.  One is a “dead cat bounce.”  Imagine your cat dies, and you toss its carcass out the second story window and watch as it hits the driveway below.  It doesn’t land motionless, like a towel.  There is a slight bounce when it hits the concrete.  Yesterday, you … Continue reading Paging P.E.T.A

Just Another Correction

10/25/2018

This is the worst month for the stock market since January of 2016.  But, they are very different corrections.  I was nervous during the first one but am just annoyed at the current one. Glencore is a huge London-based commodities trader, and they were struggling two and a half years ago.  Because they were the … Continue reading Just Another Correction

c-r-e-a-k-i-n-g

10/23/2018

That creaking sound you hear is the stock market struggling under the weight of both geopolitical troubles and political troubles.  Think about it — our colossal trade war with China, the increasing probability that England will have a messy crash-out of the European Union, the Mid-East is being realigned as we watch in real time, … Continue reading c-r-e-a-k-i-n-g

The Need To Break Noses

10/23/2018

Is it acceptable to punch somebody in the nose for insulting your late Mother? In an overly-long opinion piece inside yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, the writer alleged that leftists  hate “Mr. Trump’s vulgarity.”  Well, my Mother never used a vulgar word but prayed for those who did.  Vulgarity was not a small deal to her!  It … Continue reading The Need To Break Noses

Hunting The Killer

10/21/2018

Perry Mason always found the murderer, but he had a big advantage, because it was after-the-fact. While the economic data is as good as I’ve ever seen it, at least during my lifetime, we should remember that “Bull markets never die of old age.  They get killed first!”  Hunting the killer is easier with a … Continue reading Hunting The Killer

Quarterly Column

10/19/2018

While it is somewhat dated, here is the link to my latest column for Inside Business https://pilotonline.com/inside-business/news/columns/article_2d091de2-cb3c-11e8-b55e-83e28276fafd.html

Meandering Toward Brexit

10/17/2018

I understand patriotism.  I feel it from my toes to my nose.  I love our national identity, warts and all!  Britain also has a strong national identity, with minimal warts.  Of course, they feel pride in their national identity, and they should! My inner Republican imagines the damage to their pride when they had to … Continue reading Meandering Toward Brexit

A Geopolitical Diet?

10/16/2018

There is obviously a close relationship between the economy and the stock market.  Sometimes, it is not close enough.  During the second quarter, the economy grew earnings 25% year-over-year.  During the third quarter, earnings were expected to rise 15% and actually increased 21%.  The fourth quarter is running 20% up.  Does the stock market growth … Continue reading A Geopolitical Diet?

Thank You, Brett!

10/14/2018

Most of us realize that it is unhealthy to watch too much TV news.  Years ago, I declared my Saturdays as a news-free day.  It is important to recognize the toxicity of TV news, be it Red-tinted or Blue-tinted.  Both are toxic.  After the bitterly contentious news coverage on the elevation of America’s only available … Continue reading Thank You, Brett!

Supply and Demand

10/13/2018

Most everybody knows that prices are determined by the “Law of Supply and Demand”.  If supply of a product decreases while demand increases, then buyers will “bid up” the price.  Likewise, if demand increases more than supply increases, buyers will again “bid up” the price.  However, if supply increases more than demand, buyers will not … Continue reading Supply and Demand

The End Is Near? Nope!

10/11/2018

The stock market held a SALE today, with the Dow stocks getting over 800 points cheaper.  No, it is not the beginning of the end.  More likely, it is a normal bull market correction.  Here is what happened: The European markets closed down sharply.  They were understandably frightened of rising interest rates.  The impact of … Continue reading The End Is Near? Nope!

Dying Of Old Age

10/09/2018

Most people hope to get old and die of natural causes, and most people do!  Bull markets don’t have that hope of a pleasant passage.  Bull markets never die of old age.  Like animals in nature, they get killed – by several different causes.  The most common is the Federal Reserve raising interest rates too … Continue reading Dying Of Old Age

Memories That Divide Us

10/06/2018

It is the pain that keeps on giving and giving. I watched a movie entitled Last Flag Flying.  It was a story of three veterans from Vietnam.  Like most, their shared memories kept them apart after the war, and they went different ways.  Thirty years later, one lost his son in Iraq, and he sought out … Continue reading Memories That Divide Us

Sad

10/05/2018

There are precious few Americans who respect Congress.  Respect for the Presidency varies depending on the President, but most everybody I know respects the Supreme Court. When President Trump nominated Judge Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court, I thought that was fine.  While Kavanaugh’s perspective on expansive executive power worried me, I felt he was reasonably … Continue reading Sad

Partisan-Paralysis

10/03/2018

Just when you think that hyper-partisanship could not get any worse, along comes the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings.  For a long time, I have believed that hyper-partisanship was due to two factors.  First, politics become more poisonous when moderates are excluded, which is the result of gerrymandering.  Reliably red districts are not likely to produce moderate … Continue reading Partisan-Paralysis

Kudos to Mr. Trump

10/02/2018

I applaud the President on the signing of “Nafta II” or the “U.S., Mexico, Canada Agreement” or USMCA, as he prefers to call it. Critics will cite the minor differences between this new agreement and the TPP, which the President rejected immediately after coming into office.  For example, TPP gave U.S. farmers 3.25% of the … Continue reading Kudos to Mr. Trump

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

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

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)

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

Snowing in Hades

08/30/2018

To those poor souls burning in Hell – Rejoice – Snow is coming. Long time readers know my strong feelings about Google (AKA Alphabet).  I have long thought they should be ashamed.  They did NOT say to Americans, in any understandable fashion:  “In return for giving you vast amounts of information on the internet, we … Continue reading Snowing in Hades

More Sunshine Ahead

08/29/2018

Some economic data points tell us how things are today, while others suggest how things will be in the future.  Consumer Confidence is the latter – it hints at the future.  The latest report is the best in seventeen years.  Because two-thirds of GDP is consumer spending, the latest Consumer Confidence report suggests consumer spending … Continue reading More Sunshine Ahead

Wine Talk

08/27/2018

I had an interesting conversation with a fellow retired banker.  He is quite the intellectual, as well as a devout Christian.  The conversation drifted into the difference between long-term and short-term thinking. He explained that his greatest long-term fear is going to Hell, and his short-term tactic to avoid this is to follow the teaching … Continue reading Wine Talk

The Best American

08/26/2018

While I did not always agree with the late Senator John McCain, I always respected him — more than any other elected official.  I knew that nobody in Washington loved this country more than John McCain loved it.  America is a better place because John McCain was here, and that was all he ever wanted! … Continue reading The Best American

Decency Matters

08/26/2018

It was July of 2015 that Donald Trump trashed John McCain the first time.  I was deeply offended at the time that Trump trashed a war hero, a national hero, as well as a personal hero to me.  That was the line in the sand for me — it was then crystal clear to me … Continue reading Decency Matters

NING Trusts

08/25/2018

Tax lawyers must never sleep! In January, the President unfolded his new tax code.  One of the provisions was that deductions for state and local taxes (SALT) became limited to a max of $10 thousand.  This shifted some of the tax burden from Red states to Blue states, as Blue states normally have higher SALT. … Continue reading NING Trusts

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