This Halloween, when you open the door, you may find Thor, Captain America, Green Lantern, or the X-Men standing outside looking for tasty treats. Or, you may find characters you don’t recognize at all! Keeping up with pop culture is no easy task. This year, watch for:

  • Anime characters: If you’re not a fan of Japanese anime comic books, graphic novels, or video games, you may not recognize Chibi Moon or Uzumaki when they appear at your door.
  • Steampunk characters: Steampunk culture shows what the digital age would look like if it had happened 100 years ago.

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Last month we wrote about American’s vulnerability to the growing threat of SPAM in your emails, and the historically unfavorable returns of August and September. On September 7th, Equifax decided to layer another level of doom to our readers when the company announced that 143 million American’s information, including social security and driver’s license numbers, had been stolen by hackers. This is the largest threat to personally sensitive information in years, and the third successful hack into Equifax in 2017 alone.

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From the title, you may be thinking about the iconic American meat that arrives in a rectangular 12-ounce tin (and is inexplicably popular in certain island states and American territories). However, your true worry should focus on the “spam” that arrives digitally as email, text, and social media messages.

The latter type of ‘spam’ took its name from the former. You may be familiar with a sketch from the 1970’s movie, Monty Python. The performance introduced a café that offered Spam in almost every dish, much to the dismay of a customer whose palette did not favor the processed meat.

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It’s been a busy year in Washington D.C. with a mixed view on accomplishments. Next on the agenda, Congress is beginning its shift (for the time being) to tax reform; lower taxes are expected to create improvements in the economy by increasing the rate of money flow (how fast it changes hands). On the surface, tax-reform has a good vibe and theoretically puts more money in consumer’s pockets. Granted, personal consumption expenditures represent 70 percent of gross domestic product, but journalists should know from Econ 101 that GDP only measures the value of final output. It deliberately leaves out a big chunk of the economy—intermediate production or goods-in-process at the commodity, manufacturing, and wholesale stages—to avoid double counting. We calculated total spending (sales or receipts) in the economy at all stages to be more than double GDP (using gross business receipts compiled annually by the IRS). By this measure—which we have dubbed gross domestic expenditures, or GDE—consumption represents only about 30 percent of the economy, while business investment (including intermediate output) represents over 50 percent.

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When making a sizeable donation as a direct gift, you know exactly how much you can afford to give and how it will affect your overall finances, but you may wish you could do more. If so, charitable trusts and annuities provide ways for you to make a major charitable donation while simultaneously receiving reimbursements that can help provide financial security.

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When economic data is good and consumer confidence reaches its highest level since 2001, U.S. equities have momentum on their side.  Last week the S&P 500 Index climbed 0.7% as the ISM non-manufacturing index showed that business activity and employment trends are improving.  As the economy improves, the Federal Reserve will likely move interest rates higher later this month. Investors are cheering this environment but we believe equity markets have gotten ahead of themselves.

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Heading into the election, headlines pontificated a huge sell-off (following a Trump win). Stocks closed at record highs last Friday, with gains of 0.5% for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, 0.4% for the S&P 500, and 0.3% for the Nasdaq Composite.  Year-to-date gains are now 6.5% for the Nasdaq, 3.5% for the S&P 500 and 2.6% for the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Equity markets have rallied since the election, leaving some question whether markets have come too far, too fast.  Even worse, are stocks in a bubble?

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America was highly attuned to the U.S. political backdrop last week as Donald J. Trump was sworn in as the nation’s 45th president. Investors are betting that President Trump will deliver on some of his pro-growth policies.  He is focused on several things, taxes being at the top of that list.  Still, financial markets were rattled (only slightly) by his comments that some parts of the tax plan are “too complicated” and the U.S. dollar is “too strong.”  Nevertheless, 8 of the 11 sectors in the S&P 500 Index traded higher last week.

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There are many benefits to marriage, but one you may not yet have considered is the flexibility married couples enjoy when deciding how and when to claim Social Security. Even though the basic rules apply to everyone, a couple has more options than a single person because each member of a couple1 can claim at different dates, and may be eligible for spousal benefits.

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Fidelity Viewpoints

Heading into the holiday weekend, stocks rose slightly on Friday amid low volume, the Dow managed its seventh consecutive weekly gain. Only three days of trading remain in 2016 and investors are optimistic for a solid finish without sizeable deterioration.  In recent weeks, however, the market has moved into what we call a bullish pennant formation. This setup usually resolves in prices moving higher but our medium-term indicators are overbought and seem to be flashing a sign of caution.  A pause or pullback should not be ruled out at this point.  Perhaps the most asked question is what is driving this market?

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