The Flinchum File

Thoughtful Economic Analysis and Existential Opinions
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What a difference a year makes…….

I learn so much from my friends. This is from one of them, i.e., Ben Valore-Caplan, CEO of the highly respected Syntrinsic Investment Counsel in Denver. He reminds us of our reality a mere twelve months ago.

• At market close on launch day, the Dow stood at 11,417, about 23% above the
current 9,315.
• George Bush was President.
• Oil stood at 113 versus 67 today.
• Barack Obama was en route to Denver to accept the Democratic nomination.
• Few people had heard of Bernie Madoff. Those who had heard of him thought
that they were lucky.
• Citigroup was trading at about 17.5 (now trading at 4.3), AIG over 400 (now
26.6), and GM at 10 (now trading as Motors Liquidate at 0.90).
• Sarah Palin was a relatively obscure governor of Alaska. Now she is neither.
• Many thought that the worst of the US stock market correction was over (the
S&P 500 actually rose in August 2008 before a precipitous September-October-
November 20 decline of 42%).
• Lehman Brothers was a major investment bank (until mid-September).
• Many hedge fund investors still did not know what “gates” were or how easy
they were to put up.
• Inflation as measured by CPI stood at 5.6% (the highest in 17 years), just
prior to massive negative changes in CPI in October and November. CPI this
week is at 0.0%.
• The Olympics in China were proceeding without the hitches many had expected.
Few outside the State Department had heard of Uighers.
• Health care reform was something from the early 1990s.
• Town hall meetings were generally confined to small towns in New England.
• Former Goldman CEO, Hank Paulson ran the US Treasury Department while former
Goldman Chairman, Stephen Friedman, ran the New York Federal Reserve.
Goldman stock was at 158 one year ago; it is at 158 today. Curious.
• The Tamil Tigers controlled much of north and east Sri Lanka.
Stanford Group was selling 10% CDs issued by their bank in the Caribbean.
• Housing starts of 950 million in August 2008 had economists wondering if the
housing market had stabilized at last.

Life moves on . . . thankfully!