The Flinchum File
Thoughtful Economic Analysis and Existential Opinions

THE Season of Guilt

12/02/2020

First, there is Thanksgiving Thursday, followed by Black Friday, followed by Cyber Monday, followed by Giving Tuesday, which was yesterday.  Some people refer to the Season of Giving as the Season of Guilt.  When the continuous Medicare commercials end on December 7th, you will notice a surge in commercials featuring sick kids or suffering animals.  … Continue reading THE Season of Guilt

Creative Destruction

11/29/2020

The late Austrian-born economist Joseph Schumpeter popularized the idea that good things can result from bad things and described it as creative destruction. When President Trump appointed Peter Navarro to the newly-created office as Trade Czar, AKA as Director of National Trade Council, I had mixed emotions.  He has the affable persona one would expect … Continue reading Creative Destruction

Desperately Dumb

11/28/2020

What is it about dumb criminals that make them seem almost funny? Ponzi schemes are always described by the media as an example of the way unscrupulous financial advisors steal from their clients.  Actually, it is a way that really DUMB financial advisors steal from their clients for a period of time.   By its nature, … Continue reading Desperately Dumb

Peeking into 2021

11/27/2020

When I enjoyed some graduate work at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, I especially enjoyed meeting Dr. Jeremy Siegel.  Shy, self-effacing, and slightly bumbling, he was the stereotypical professor . . . except he is also a brilliant investment strategist.  Here are some of his most recent observations.  Inflation will be picking … Continue reading Peeking into 2021

Thanksgiving 2020

11/26/2020

I am thankful . . . to be born in America. I am thankful . . . to have good health. I am thankful . . . to have plenty of food. I am thankful . . . to have enough money. I am thankful . . . to have a wonderful wife. I am … Continue reading Thanksgiving 2020

Cool . . . again !

11/24/2020

Shortly after President Trump became President, I recalled Barbara Mandrell’s 1981 classic “I was country when country wasn’t cool’. One of my degrees was in World Trade, where I was deeply steeped in the economic Principal of Comparative Advantage, which provides a logical, coherent basis for bilateral international trade and, by extension, multilateral trade.  I … Continue reading Cool . . . again !

More Fish In The Sea

11/20/2020

The Senate should not approve the nomination of Dr. Judy Shelton to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. She has frequently expressed interest in returning to the gold standard.  If gold is pegged at $35/oz ,for example, our total money supply is a direct function of how much gold we have.  We … Continue reading More Fish In The Sea

Dumb Headlines

11/19/2020

Imagine a newspaper headline that said “Clocks showed five o’clock twice yesterday.”  Well, duh . . . David Rosenberg is one of the most respected investment strategists on Wall Street.  He was interviewed by a magazine that carried the headline “There will be another big correction in the stock market.”  Well, duh . . . … Continue reading Dumb Headlines

Feeding the CCP . . .

11/16/2020

If you have any gray hair, you’re probably unfamiliar with “TikTok” which is an app to upload and watch short videos, which are usually less than a minute and produced by millions of our friends and neighbors, mostly young friends and neighbors.  It has been in the news recently, because President Trump wants the app … Continue reading Feeding the CCP . . .

SPACing Investors

11/15/2020

When a new company wants to sell some of itself, in the form of shares, to the general public, it normally does an Initial Public Offering (IPO).  This is a long, arduous process that is closely regulated by the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC).  Certain forward-looking projections are required, such as sales and expenses.  If any … Continue reading SPACing Investors

Concede . . . Please!

11/12/2020

The mass media is mildly annoyed by privacy but is enraged by secrets.  We could not even keep the atomic bomb secret.  Now, we are asked to believe that many Democrats in many states conspired to defraud American voters.  I’m not saying Democrats are “above” that sort of thing, because neither Democrats nor Republicans are … Continue reading Concede . . . Please!

Dueling Ph.D.s

11/08/2020

I try to seek out the Libertarian view on most issues and often agree with those views.  The current controversary over lockdowns is no exception.  The conventional wisdom is that lockdowns are effective tools to combat the coronavirus.  The Libertarian wisdom is explained in their new Great Barrington Declaration — that people are different and … Continue reading Dueling Ph.D.s

An Overdue Bill

11/07/2020

Yesterday’s employment or “jobs” report was better than expected, which is a nice way of saying . . .  not as bad as feared during a pandemic.  Economists expected 350 thousand jobs were created last month and were pleasantly surprised to learn it was 638 thousand.  This was despite a drop of 138 thousand in … Continue reading An Overdue Bill

Two Key Dates

11/01/2020

Television advertising will drop on both November 3rd and again on December 1st.  First, the never-ending Presidential election will finally be held on November 3rd – WHEW! Second, December 1st is the end of the annual Medicare enrollment period and the end of those annoying television commercials – WHEW!  But, what should you do? The … Continue reading Two Key Dates

Silly Old Fool

10/31/2020

When you lose a loved one, it is normal to grieve and mourn the loss.  In fact, it is both normal and healthy. The lead editorial in the local newspaper yesterday was titled “Privacy compromised in VA” and raises awareness of the new surveillance capability of police — collecting license plate photos with time and … Continue reading Silly Old Fool

Falling Into The Election

10/29/2020

Normally, the stock market loses value slowly as the presidential election approaches, because uncertainty is increasing.  Of course, 2020 is predictably worse, as the market is now losing value more rapidly than normal as the election approaches.  This can be understandable, because (1) the election is so ugly and contentious, (2) more race-riots and election-related … Continue reading Falling Into The Election

What Matters?

10/26/2020

My late mother voted a straight Republican ticket, beginning with General Eisenhower in 1952.  Over the years, she frequently told me that “a good man is better than a rich man.”  I thought of that on July 18th, 2015, when I watched Donald Trump trash our beloved war-hero, the late Senator John McCain – gratuitously … Continue reading What Matters?

Clues

10/22/2020

As a Cub Scout, I learned that lichens only grow on the north side of trees, so I could orient my map.  As a soldier, I learned to aim slightly lower when aiming uphill, as the reducing air pressure gave a slight lift to the bullet.  As an investment analyst, I learned that stock prices … Continue reading Clues

The Rights of Europeans

10/21/2020

Oh, those silly Europeans . . . they’re just so fussy . . . and cute! Earlier this year, Congress held hearings on the future of Big Tech companies, like Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Microsoft.  Congress is worried they have become too big and too powerful.  Historically, Democrats have always been distrustful of Big Business.  … Continue reading The Rights of Europeans

In Defense of . . .

10/16/2020

 I rise in defense of Donald J. Trump. Somehow, it was leaked that Mr. Trump has over $400 million of debt, which he has not denied.  Pundits immediately went to the bankruptcy angle, whereby he could theoretically be begging in the Oval Office.  Those pundits are unfamiliar with Real Estate Finance 101. Typically, a real … Continue reading In Defense of . . .

Ten Lessons

10/15/2020

Fareed Zakaria is a native of Mumbai, India who earned his doctorate from Harvard and now hosts a highly-rated weekly show on foreign affairs for CNN, called GPS.  He has already written several best-selling books, including his latest, which is entitled Ten Lessons for a Post-Pandemic World. I didn’t see his “Lessons” as something to … Continue reading Ten Lessons

The Good, The Bad, and the Deficit

10/12/2020

My quarterly column for Inside Business can be found here:  https://www.pilotonline.com/inside-business/vp-ib-expert-flinchum-1012-20201009-ee7quugvvfevha6huodveq3txa-story.html

The Cost of Good Luck

10/11/2020

It is no surprise that white middle-aged men have economic and social advantages in life.  Of course, these blessed Americans also have 69.97% of all suicides.  One usual reason is the guilt of having squandered their “white-male” advantages by accomplishing so little.  It is the curse of “the American Dream.”    Another reason is that … Continue reading The Cost of Good Luck

Enough Drama ?

10/10/2020

If President Trump is reelected, my Democratic friends will find that as proof of our continuing systemic racism.  If President Trump is defeated, my Republican friends will blame it on the media. Niall Ferguson is a brilliant, widely-respected, Scottish-born conservative, who is a professor of history at Stanford and has authored numerous excellent books.  Personally, … Continue reading Enough Drama ?

Free ?

10/09/2020

For years, I have recommended that everyone have a “news-free” day.  That is especially important as the never-ending pandemic stretches on, as our political establishment continues to embarrass us, as neighbors gravitate into Red or Blue tribes, as domestic strife breeds domestic terror, and so on. Saturday is my day to be free of news.  … Continue reading Free ?

A Good Error

10/08/2020

I’m concerned that many mail-in ballots will be disqualified, because zero errors are permitted.  You might mail in a ballot with an error unknowingly, only to have your ballot disqualified and not know it. Unfortunately, I did make an error completing my ballot.  Since I could no longer vote-by-mail, I went to the Courthouse and … Continue reading A Good Error

China Rebounding

10/08/2020

Since signing the agreement to a ceasefire in the trade war with China, that trade war has been crowded off the front page by the election, but interesting things are still happening. Despite a long-established reputation as a currency manipulator (in order to make their exports cheaper for foreigners to buy), they have actually allowed … Continue reading China Rebounding

Planning Time . . . Now!

10/05/2020

Nobody wants to pay higher taxes and have less money to take home to their families.  Some taxpayers say taxes alone drive all their decisions, which I don’t understand.  I know one man in Texas who actually sold his house and moved to another state, away from his grandchildren, just to avoid increased real estate … Continue reading Planning Time . . . Now!

A Little Thing

10/03/2020

It is a trivial thing, I know, but the way a President returns salutes has always been interesting to me.  Both President Bushes saluted properly, which I appreciated.  President Clinton (a non-veteran) never did figure it out.  Bless his heart, but President Obama did try the hardest.  However, President Trump always had a excellent salute, … Continue reading A Little Thing

Get Well Soon

10/02/2020

Readers know the low regard I’ve had for the Presidency of Donald J. Trump.  Despite all that, I pray that he, his family, and his staff enjoy a quick, complete recovery from the coronavirus!  Nobody deserves that awful disease. Be well, Mr. President!

More Good Datapoints

10/01/2020

Consumer Confidence is a key indicator of the economy, especially future retail sales.  In February, it was 132.6 – a record high.  Then, the pandemic hit and Consumer Confidence dropped to 85.7 in April.  Monday, we learned it has risen nicely to 101.8.  This was better than expected. We have spoken before about the two-speed … Continue reading More Good Datapoints

A Deficit To Ignore

09/29/2020

With a $3 trillion national deficit this year and trillion dollar deficits expected to continue for years-to-come, there is an increasing anxiety about an economic collapse.  Today, the release of the Net International Investment Position (NIIP) heightened that anxiety . . . but unnecessarily. The NIIP is focused on the amount of income we receive … Continue reading A Deficit To Ignore

Perception Request

09/27/2020

Most of us see of a slippery slope from forgetfulness to dementia to Alheimer’s, but one does not necessarily lead to another.  Forgetfulness is normal and even has the fancy name of “mild cognitive linguistic deficit”. I have been fortunate to work with senior citizens for most of my life.  At least a thousand times, … Continue reading Perception Request

Force-Feeding Vinegar

09/25/2020

The joke among investment analysts is . . . if you want to have a small fortune in airline stocks, you just need to invest a large fortune! The aviation industry is a huge business, employing many thousands of people and consuming huge quantities of capital – both debt capital and equity capital.  Whenever there … Continue reading Force-Feeding Vinegar

The End Is Near . . . ?

09/23/2020

Some people believe that “those who refuse to learn the lessons of history are condemned to repeat them.”  Some pundits amuse themselves by saying “history may not repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”  My view is that history is the best flashlight we have to find a pathway in the dark. Here are some lessons … Continue reading The End Is Near . . . ?

Peeking Outside

09/22/2020

Like most people, we have been cloistered the last seven months, with trips to the grocery store for excitement and an occasional meal at a local open-air restaurant.   Recently, I needed to visit a client in Greenville, South Carolina.  So, it was with some trepidation that we temporarily re-entered the normal world, because it was … Continue reading Peeking Outside

Just Do It!

09/18/2020

We tend to think of life in three phases:  childhood years, working years, and retirement years.  This reflects the lifecycle model of a time when jobs were secure and lifespans were short.  This has all changed, and we should update our perspective. In the past, we’ve noted that some work (either for money or for … Continue reading Just Do It!

Not Two-Dimensional Chess

09/17/2020

When the Fed meets and especially when the FOMC meets, they issue a written report, which is the most finely perused government report.  Analysts scrutinize every word for any tiny minute change, even the placement of commas (seriously). It’s latest release promised to keep interest rates low for a longer period than predicted earlier.  Now, … Continue reading Not Two-Dimensional Chess

Marginalize Extremists?

09/14/2020

A new analysis from Brown University estimates the cost of the war in Iraq and in Afghanistan has been $6.4 trillion.  Ignoring the necessity of those wars, focus on paying for the wars.  Looking at www.usdebtclock.org, our national debt is about $26.8 trillion.  That means the cost of those never-ending wars explains about 24% of … Continue reading Marginalize Extremists?

What’s Different This Time?

09/09/2020

Normally, we talk about economies in terms of separate countries, as in this country has a strong economy, while that country has a weak economy.  Often, we slice economies by industries, as in this industry is doing well, while that industry is doing poorly.  Since the 1970s, we have also sliced it by region, as … Continue reading What’s Different This Time?

The Golden Age of Conspiracies

09/07/2020

Conspiracy theories are fashionable these days.  Most psychologists suggest that some people are more susceptible to conspiracy theories than other people.  That may be, but I suspect existentialists are the least susceptible. One of the few things I remember from high school physics is that atoms are in constant motion, colliding randomly with other atoms.  … Continue reading The Golden Age of Conspiracies

Disgust

09/05/2020

Having watched our RINO President refer to the late Senator McCain as a loser, and calling the late President Bush a loser for going down in his plane during World War II, and later disrespecting a Gold Star family, I don’t have any difficulty believing he also called our fallen soldiers losers and suckers.  He … Continue reading Disgust

Did you know . . . ?

09/02/2020

Households making less than $300 thousand annually give about 2.3% to charity each year, while households making more than $300 thousand donate 4.4%. Households identifying as religious give twice as much as those who do not. Volunteers to charitable organizations give 2.5% of their income to charity each year, compared to 1.2% who don’t volunteer. … Continue reading Did you know . . . ?

No, Not the Fed Too ??

08/31/2020

It has been widely-reported that the U.S. Department of Justice has been overly-politicized, and that report is now widely accepted. It has been widely-reported that the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), two of the most respected institutions in the world, are being overly-politicized, which might explain why they … Continue reading No, Not the Fed Too ??

Enough ?

08/27/2020

One of my favorite guns is a small Beretta .22LR automatic.  It has 2″ barrel and six-shot clip.  With such a short barrel, it is not accurate much past 20 feet, but it is small enough to fit into my front pants pocket — making it an ideal  “pocket-pistol.”  I keep it in the glove … Continue reading Enough ?

Stutter-Step Whack-A-Mole

08/26/2020

Shutting down the economy is a terrible thing.  It hurts the economy, as well as the emotional health of our citizens.  Recognizing this, President Trump nonetheless had the courage to shut us down anyway.  However, he remained under enormous pressure to get America open and back-to-normal as quickly as possible. The only thing worse than … Continue reading Stutter-Step Whack-A-Mole

Watching Paint Get Old & Moldy

08/24/2020

Being a Republican is easy, just watch Fox News. Being a Democrat is easy, just watch MSNBC or even CNN. Being Independent NOT easy!  NEWSY is unbiased but not deep enough. Being Independent does require you to watch news networks you don’t like. However, being Independent does not require you to watch national conventions. I … Continue reading Watching Paint Get Old & Moldy

Rationales R’ Us

08/24/2020

Economists have two primary trade associations.  First, the American Economic Association (AEA) is the oldest and is oriented toward academic economists, more commonly known as “nerds.”  As far as I can tell, it has no ideological bent.  If you can still solve quadratic equations in the dark, this group might be for you.  Second, there … Continue reading Rationales R’ Us

Conflated . . .

08/22/2020

When closely-related but different subjects are conflated, heated arguments are not uncommon. A week or so ago, there was a heated kerfluffle about voting and the Post Office.  My Republican friends became very animated, because others don’t see the problem of illegal voting as a big problem.  My Democratic friends became very animated, because others … Continue reading Conflated . . .

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