The Flinchum File
Thoughtful Economic Analysis and Existential Opinions

Fox Failed Trump


When I go to sleep at night, I reluctantly relinquish control of the TV remote.  By then, that poor piece of plastic is exhausted, breathing heavy, and sweating profusely.  That’s because it has been worked so hard — after all, every commercial break requires a channel change. In the never ending search for a balanced … Continue reading Fox Failed Trump

Layers of an Onion


Many years ago, the mentor of Warren Buffet was Benjamin Graham.  He taught:  “In the short run, the market is a voting machine but in the long run, it is a weighing machine.” Colleges teach us that the stock market reflects both current economic conditions and future expectations.  It weighs economic data.  Today, the economic data … Continue reading Layers of an Onion

Importing Trouble


Inside our country, the stock market has been fretting over the possibility of slowing growth in corporate earnings and GDP, as well as rising interest rates, an ominous yield curve, the trade war, and the perpetual political circus.  As if all that was not enough burden on U.S. investors, we just imported two more – … Continue reading Importing Trouble

Importing Trouble


Inside our country, the stock market has been fretting over the possibility of slowing growth in corporate earnings and GDP, as well as rising interest rates, an ominous yield curve, the trade war, and the perpetual political circus.  As if all that was not enough burden on U.S. investors, we just imported two more – … Continue reading Importing Trouble

Yield Curve Over-Reaction


Think of buying a bond like loaning money to a friend.  If he must repay the money tomorrow, there is not much that can go wrong before then.  However, if he must repay you in twenty years, there are many things that could go wrong, and you might not get repaid.  An example would be … Continue reading Yield Curve Over-Reaction

Wrong + Wrong = Right ??


Democrats did a bad thing!  Back in the 1930’s, they introduced the concept of gerrymandering in Virginia.  Instead of voters picking their legislators, the legislators picked their voters.  Hiding behind the valid concept of redistricting, which is required every ten years following the census, the Democrats packed Republican voters into as few districts as possible.  … Continue reading Wrong + Wrong = Right ??

R.I.P. 41


There are good Republicans and there are bad Republicans. George H. W. Bush was a great Republican. More importantly, he was a good and decent American, who will be missed. Rest in a well-deserved peace . . .

A Silk Purse?


Living close to the water in a coastal community, sea level rise is not an academic issue to me – it is personal.  I know we cannot just build a wall to hold back the sea, nor can we elevate entire cities, but I have been impressed with how effective “improved drainage” can be, including … Continue reading A Silk Purse?

According To Oz


While I would not do any business with Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs, I do have great respect for their research and just read their 2019 outlook.  In a word, they are quite bullish on December of this year but less bullish on 2019, predicting only a 5% rise in the S&P, mostly in the … Continue reading According To Oz

Thanksgiving Wish


A veteran of the Pacific Theater during World War II, Bert Aaron is a patriot, living in Williamsburg.  I am thankful that he has been a friend, a client, and an inspiration for so many years!  The local paper, Virginia Gazette, just published his latest column.  With his permission, I quote it below: ********************************************************************************************************************************************************************** Stop.  … Continue reading Thanksgiving Wish

Take A Break, Please


The Fed has been under increasingly heavy criticism.  No president has ever been happy when the Fed is raising interest rates, but the current one is especially loud.  Now, Wall Street is beginning to complain more loudly as well. There is a belief that rising interest rates mean falling stock prices, and it’s only logical … Continue reading Take A Break, Please



Some years ago, a client asked me what was “this Google thing?”  After explaining what a search engine does, I added that Google was the greatest shredder of privacy in the history of the planet.  Then, Facebook came along. If you have not yet read Wednesday’s article in The New York Times, it is well worth … Continue reading Treason!

Monday’s Autopsy


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


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


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?


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


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


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 ?


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


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?


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


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


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



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


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


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


While it is somewhat dated, here is the link to my latest column for Inside Business

Meandering Toward Brexit


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?


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!


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


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!


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


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


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



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



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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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 ….


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 ….


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


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 ?


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


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