The Flinchum File

Thoughtful Economic Analysis and Existential Opinions
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Welcome to The Flinchum File

I am an Accredited Investment Fiduciary at Bay Capital Advisors, an investment firm headquartered in Virginia Beach, VA. After retiring from Truist Bank, I started this firm to work more closely with a smaller number of clients, and it has been great! Our client load is about 25% of the national average.

Writing is not for the shy or the meek. It exposes a person’s mind and character. I hope you enjoy the view.

The opinions expressed in The Flinchum File are those of the writer, Jim Flinchum, and do not necessarily reflect those of Bay Capital Advisors, LLC

Bucket List

It was probably because I watched too many “James Bond” movies when I was young, but I got struck by the wanderlust-bug and became determined to see the world. Wisely, my geography professor told me that travel takes a great deal of money and gives you very little knowledge in exchange . . . but you do gain far better perspective. He was right! Most…

The Barn Door

Despite being a lifelong gun-lover who owns many guns, I side with my Democratic friends that “something” must be done to reduce gun violence. However, stopping the flow of new weapons into our population is not likely, due the NRA hostages in Congress. We need to reverse the flow and remove guns from the population. With a population of 335 million, we have almost 400…

Comparing Recessions

There are many similarities and many differences between the Great Recession of 2008/9 and the current banking “crisis”. In no particular order, here are some initial thoughts: 1. Social Media: One cause of the current “crisis” is that it is the first downturn since social media overwhelmed America. I’ve seen many banks experience a “run-on-the-bank” and go under, but I have never seen banks collapse…

Wanted: A Time Machine

It’s a reasonable assumption that our Founding Fathers were good and decent people. I wonder how they would reply if we told them: “Your Second Amendment has become a smokescreen for bad people to hide behind, when killing good people. In fact, your Second Amendment has made it possible for guns to become the leading cause of death for children, surpassing car accidents. Are you…

Short Memories?

Remember those dreaded “compare & contrast” questions in college? We should do that for the current banking crisis (BC) and the 2008/9 Global Financial Crisis (GFC). Ready? Unemployment was much higher in the GFC. The stock market dropped by roughly 50% during the GFC. It took months for the GFC to develop but only days for the BC to develop. You can thank social media!…

Here We Go Again ?

In the 1980’s, the government encouraged lenders to get more aggressive in making loans, to stimulate the economy. That was especially true for Savings & Loan Associations, who were encouraged to “think like entrepreneurs”. Naturally, “anything worth doing is worth over-doing!” By 1990, there was a full-blown financial crisis. My chief memory was when the small bank on the first floor failed, and I could…

Smelling Smoke . . . ?

Today’s “jobs report” shows the economy is still quite strong, and that’s bad news! Expecting that 225 thousand new jobs were produced last month, we actually produced 311 thousand – GOOD NEWS! That makes the Fed more likely to raise interest rates significantly next week – BAD NEWS! The average hourly earnings dropped slightly, which indicates inflation may be subsiding. The size of our labor…

Watching Tourists

Probably as a result of growing up in a beach town, I enjoy watching tourists. During a recent cruise to Antarctica, the largest group of passengers, not surprisingly, was affluent over-60 whites. There was only one black couple. There were zero children, not even teenagers. Most passengers were fit enough to get into and out of Zodiacs (eight-passenger rubberized boats) and to walk along rocky…

Economic Diversity

As a longtime member of the National Association of Business Economics (NABE), I look forward to their quarterly surveys. It is important to know when my thoughts are in the economic mainstream . . . or not. Their just-released survey is interesting. I have never seen less agreement at NABE. Take your choice: continuing economic expansion, severe recession, or a modest recession or “soft-landing” —…

Present, Arms!

As a proud card-carrying “child of the Sixties”, it seems unnatural to respect anything or anyone. Worse, even if you do, it still seems unnatural to show it. However, I cannot hide my respect for the people of Ukraine, who have fought so bravely and have suffered so much at the hands of Russia. I respect the Ukrainians greatly and salute them! In the Army,…

Too Good To Be True

Friday, the Department of Labor released its monthly reports of jobs created last month. It was a great report but too good to be true. Analysts expected about 185 thousand new jobs, as the economy slows down due to higher interest rates. To everyone’s surprise — no, I mean to everyone’s shock — 517 thousand new jobs were created last month. While that is not…

Sociology 101

Do you remember much from your freshman course in sociology? Me neither! I cannot remember the professor’s name, but I do remember one particular statement he made: “Anybody who wants to be a cop is therefore unqualified to be a cop!” Huh? His belief was that honorable citizens of a democracy find it so repugnant to beat-up other citizens that they will avoid that duty…

Generational Pigeon Holes ?

Generalizing individuals, especially millions of individuals, is tricky business and usually in bad taste, so here we go: Early last summer, the media was obsessed with the rapidly falling economy. While I can talk for hours about the defense measures our economy can deploy, I find it helpful to tailor my comments to the listener’s generation. After all, life’s expectations reflect life’s experiences. Members of…

Too Old To Care?

The local Veterans Administration medical system has a new, modern check-in procedure . . . by text message. There is just a large sign instructing veterans to text a five digit number, and they would then receive a reply-text with instructions on what identifying information is needed and must be entered by the veteran. I was sitting in back of the waiting room when an…

Protecting Presidents

It was 1969 that I was selected for a particular mission. We were told to report, of all places (?), to Fort Gulick in the American Canal Zone. When we arrived, we signed papers that said we would never disclose what we learned from the classified documents we would see. Punctual as always, the briefer and the documents arrived exactly on time. (We were even…

Too Much Information

I’ve long respected the late Queen Elizabeth for providing the “stiff upper lip” to the British people but thought the remainder of the Royals were just a bunch of pampered sissies, except for the two princes. While both had military service, William was a military bureaucrat, and Harry went to Afghanistan TWICE. Obviously, I respect Prince Harry but regret his comment about killing exactly 25…

A Thing of Beauty

Years ago, I enjoyed scuba diving and did many open-water dives, as well as night-dives, cave-dives and even shark-dives, but the dive I remember most often was a drift-dive off Cozumel. For a drift-dive, you let the water current simply carry you along, drifting as the underwater world passes by. Cozumel has a ten mile long coral reef that you can watch while drifting. There…

Baby in the Bathwater

Thirteen years ago, Bitcoin started to show up in the financial media. Soon, there were other crypto-currencies. Today, there are hundreds. This delighted younger investors, as well as younger advisors, as it was something new that older investors and older advisors could never understand nor appreciate. Annoyed, I decided to make a deep-dive into the subject. My first conclusion was that, except for criminals, there…

2024 Forecast

It is that time of year when pundits feel compelled to make forecasts. The overwhelming majority of forecasts each year are either (1) more-of-the same or steady-state or (2) the sky-is-falling. Of course, both are theoretically reasonable. The current U.S. economic data is almost uniformly positive. That optimism seems to be contagious, as more foreign countries seem to be improving as well. Even more positive,…

2008 Redux ?

2008 was a lousy year in the stock market, and it ended in a major scandal when Bernie Madoff was arrested in December. 2022 was also a lousy year in the stock market, and it also ended in a major scandal when Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) was arrested in December. Of course, there are differences. Madoff orchestrated history’s largest Ponzi scheme, while SBF of FTX fame…

Santa Claus Rally

There is no such thing as a Santa Clause Rally, officially, but it has become almost traditional, and we have even come to expect it. The week between Christmas and New Year’s has traditionally enjoyed a robust stock market (except 2018). The conventional wisdom is that selling to take tax losses has been exhausted by Christmas and that wise investors step in to buy the…

The Curse ?

The USS George Washington has a crew of 6,012. Three crew members committed suicide in April. Of course, these are not ordinary humans who had enough life already. They are highly/expensively trained assets of the US Navy and needed for our national security. Yes, they do matter more than most people who commit suicide . . . assuming anybody really matters. One of my favorite…

Which Recession ?

My nomination for the most over-worked noun of 2022 is . . . RECESSION. Pundits fear-monger about it constantly. However, there are different types of recession. Know your recession! Most people confuse the GREAT RECESSION of 2008/9 with normal recessions. It was not! That was a global financial crisis which morphed into a really bad recession. Don’t confuse a financial crisis with a recession! Officially,…

Sandy Hook

On the tenth anniversary of the horrible massacre at Sandy Hook, it would be appropriate for gun-lovers like myself to admit that Jesus Christ did not come down from Heaven to write the Second Amendment. Of course, it would also be helpful if the “other side” would identify social programs to be trimmed enough to pay for the enhanced treatment of those people with mental…

Exit Costs

It is that time of year to start thinking about New Year’s resolutions. Having just returned from a trip to attend a funeral, I was shocked that it cost $795 to dig a hole . . . just two feet wide and two feet deep. Even with no crypt, a ceramic looking pot to hold the cremation urn cost $495. A grave marker was another…

An Innocent Bystander

The price of gas is slightly less today than 12 months ago, and the Democrats are heaping praise on President Biden, which he doesn’t deserve. The price of gas was much higher 6 months ago, and the Republicans heaped scorn on President Biden, which he didn’t deserve. No president, Democrat or Republican, has much control over gas prices, especially in the short run. They are…

Through the Looking Glass

In 1872, Lewis Carroll wrote the sequel of “Alice in Wonderland” in which Alice crawls through a mirror and discovers everything is reversed. I think about that whenever Wall Street discovers good news is bad news. The most recent jobs report was stronger than expected, which caused big losses in the stock market. What? That seems illogical! The same thing happened with the latest GDP…

The Cynical View of Sport ?

When I was young, I enjoyed playing sports in general and baseball in particular. I knew all the teams and had at least a thousand baseball cards of the players. Coaches always said sports was good for me physically, emotionally, and spiritually. You know, “idle hands are the Devil’s tools”, plus it builds character and respect for rules, yada yada . . . When I…

Economic Forecasting ?

As a longtime member of the National Association of Business Economics, I look forward to their survey of members. Normally, I am satisfied with their conclusions but think their latest is overly-pessimistic. Nonetheless, here are some of their current thoughts: My biggest disagreement with NABE is that they see the Fed as too-aggressive. While it was slow to recognize inflationary pressures, they have certainly moved…