The Flinchum File
Thoughtful Economic Analysis and Existential Opinions

From A Doll’s Lips


Bob Doll is the Chief Equity Officer for investment giant Nuveen.  He may not be the best known person on Wall Street, but he is certainly one of the best-liked.  Each year, he is brave enough to make ten predictions and has an enviable track record.  Here are his ten predictions for 2021: Our GDP … Continue reading From A Doll’s Lips

Not Yet . . .


I don’t ever recall hearing so much worry about inflation . . . while still in a recession.  Inflation does not jump after a recession.  It usually takes quite a while for the economy to get out of recession and to build up excess demand or develop supply problems before inflation is discussed.  Everybody is … Continue reading Not Yet . . .

Only 99% Responsible


Maybe it was my strict Southern Baptist upbringing, but I always feel some responsibility when bad things happen, and not many things are worse than the attack on our Capitol last week. Of course, my responsibility is tiny, but I do feel some tiny sympathy for the thugs and hooligans attacking us.  Most of them … Continue reading Only 99% Responsible

Protecting My Living Room


At first, Google’s search engine was a modern-day-miracle, enabling almost anybody to quickly find almost anything.  And, it was FREE! Later, it was disappointing to learn their business model was legalized spying on their users, by selling information on what each user searched for.  During that same period, there were increasing number of job openings … Continue reading Protecting My Living Room

This Too Shall Pass . . .


There was a light summer rain that day in 2002, when I had a late meeting in the Rosslyn area, across the Potomac from the District of Columbia.  Listening to WTOP, the local traffic radio station, I learned the “spaghetti bowl” (the area between Rosslyn and the Pentagon) was jammed and not moving.  Deciding to … Continue reading This Too Shall Pass . . .

Choose Your Poison


Last year, the most common question was — how can the stock market be doing so well, when the economy is doing so badly?  The short answer, of course, is that the economy is focused on the present, while the stock market is focused on the future.  The object lesson is that, while the stock … Continue reading Choose Your Poison

Missing the Grand Old Party


Just as there are good Democrats and bad Democrats, there are good Republicans and bad Republicans. The Georgia Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, is a good Republican. He is also smart enough to tape phone conversations with a bad Republican. America will be in a better place, when good Republicans retake the Grand Old Party.

Just a menu . . .


Just as a person can consume too much food, a person can consume too much news.  I have long advocated for a one-news-free day every week (except for business news).  For myself, I avoid all news on Saturdays.  It doesn’t really matter which day of the week you avoid the news – just one day … Continue reading Just a menu . . .

The Post-Pandemic World ?


On September 11th, 2001, I was in my 5th floor office on King Street in Alexandria.  From my window, I could see the Capitol and Washington Monument, as well Potomac side of the Pentagon.  Early that morning, everybody began rushing to the conference rooms, watching television coverage of the World Trade Center in New York.  … Continue reading The Post-Pandemic World ?

The President Is Correct !


I agree with President Trump about the infamous section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 . . . but for a different reason. When the social media industry was getting started, there was understandable concern that they might be held liable for things written on or advocated on their websites.   For example, should … Continue reading The President Is Correct !

Silver Lining ?


If you think it has been a long time since Trump was elected in the Fall of 2016, then offer condolences to your British friends, who have been living with increasing anxiety since the Summer of that year, as the Brexit negotiations dragged on and on.  A month ago, those negotiations were dead, and Britain … Continue reading Silver Lining ?

Holy Kid-Fest


An old friend was driving by and saw me.  As she slowed down and lowered her window, I rummaged in my pocket for a mask. After exchanging the customary pleasantries, I asked if she had any special plans for Christmas?  She answered “Jim, you know I don’t have any kids.” Later, I wondered about that … Continue reading Holy Kid-Fest

Angry Old Men


Seldom do I listen to angry old white men, especially those who already know everything.  You know the type – more opinions than thoughts.  But, John Bolton does have an interesting opinion. You’ll recall he was U.N. ambassador for President George W. Bush, and National Security Advisor to President Trump, until he was fired. This … Continue reading Angry Old Men

A Real Holiday Message


All of us have received those annual “what we have done” letters from our friends and relatives each year.  However, we received one from our friend and neighbor, Ivana Basnight, that I thought was original and meaningful.  She points out that 2020 was not all bad.  With her permission, here is her message: Christmas Greeting … Continue reading A Real Holiday Message

No to Crypto?


In 1962, a popular movie was called “The Music Man.”  One scene involved a parade, playing “76 Trombones”.  At the parade went by, onlookers jumped into the end of it.  After all, they didn’t want to miss the parade. In recent weeks, several prominent, high-profile investment figures on Wall Street have said they are buying … Continue reading No to Crypto?

The Europeans “Get It”


I support President Trump’s legal attack on social media giants, such as Facebook and Google, but for a different reason. The FTC and antitrust division of the Department of Justice have been moribund since the last Bush Administration.  They slept peacefully during the unfortunate consolidation of the hospital industry and also in the hotel industry.  … Continue reading The Europeans “Get It”

This Too . . . Is Passing . . .


There is a difference between rising anxiety and rising dread. Before my father came ashore in Normandy during World War II, he spent two-three very-long-months in Colchester, England, preparing for the invasion.  He told me that it was a time of rising anxiety – increasing worry about the unknown.  What would happen to them in … Continue reading This Too . . . Is Passing . . .

NABE Survey Summary


As a longtime member of the National Association of Business Economics, I always look forward to their member-survey of economic conditions.  In no particular order, here are some of their latest predictions:  After the whipsaw Q3 increase in GDP of 33.1%, we expect GDP will increase only 4.1% in this quarter and 2.9% in the … Continue reading NABE Survey Summary

The Lesson of Suddenness


Take a look at this graph, and you will see how the stock market rebounds after a major bear market, which is defined as a 30% drop.  This has happened six times since 1950.  Looking at the gray line, you can see that, historically, the stock market rose slightly more than 40% on average in … Continue reading The Lesson of Suddenness

THE Season of Guilt


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


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


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


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


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 !


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


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


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 . . .


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


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!


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


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


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


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


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


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?


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?



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


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 . . .


 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


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


My quarterly column for Inside Business can be found here:

The Cost of Good Luck


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 ?


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 ?


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


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


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!


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


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

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