Facebook is facing a reckoning in the court of public opinion for how the social media giant and its partners handle customer data.

In the court of law, holding Facebook responsible for its actions has been quite a bit harder.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been hauled in front of Congress to apologize for a data scraping scandal – a scandal that quickly followed an outcry that the site had been exploited by Russia during the 2016 election.

It’s rare to see a social media company pay consequences for its actions – or inactions – because of a broad immunity shield that some in Congress are rethinking.

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Investor confidence of late has been dented but looks to be (generally) holding up.  This story may be one of rotation from sectors into areas that appear to have great opportunity.   U.S. equities gave back their sizeable January inflows, but flows into non-U.S. developed market and emerging market (EM) equities have more than offset the loss.  U.S. investment grade, EM debt and U.S. government bonds have attracted inflows.

For now, Investors remain focused on trade issues where tensions rose near the end of March.  However, last week we saw conditions improve as Chinese officials indicated they may be open to negotiating resolutions.  In theory, the Chinese government has signaled that it will make some concessions.  Such a move would avoid any disruption in the global trade and afford President Trump a political win.  Indeed, we see a full-blown trade war as unlikely.

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And how it relates to family and financial planning

It is Masters time again. The 2018 Masters Tournament begins on April 5th, continuing an April tradition that started in 1934.

Why is the Masters so special? Well, it starts because the tournament’s co-founder – Bobby Jones was one of the greatest golfers of all time. In addition, unlike many other tournaments, The Masters takes place at the same location every year: Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia. Other major golf tournaments, the Super Bowl, the World Series, the Olympics, etc. happen at various courses and stadiums. A consistent golf tournament location allows for consistent tournament traditions.

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What happened at Orbitz?

Reports from March 20th state that up to 880,000 payment card numbers and related information may have been exposed in a data breach. Orbitz, which is owned by Expedia, apparently had two different data disclosures.

In the first disclosure, a hacker may have accessed customers’ personal information for some purchases made on orbitz.com between Jan. 1, 2016, and June 22, 2016, according to the news report. The related information includes customers’ birthdays, physical addresses, full names, phone numbers, email addresses and payment-card information.

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Literally hundreds of potential federal tax breaks are out there for the taking. Don’t miss out. Get to know the different types of deductions and how they’re handled when filling out your tax return and keep good records so you can potentially lower your taxes. Although “tax deduction” is often used as a catch-all, there are 3 types of tax reducers: above-the-line deductions, below-the-line itemized deductions, and tax credits. Let’s dig into each.
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Fidelity Viewpoints

While the Federal Reserve’s decisions certainly impact the US (and global) economy, it’s important to know that the Fed does not set economic policy. The Fed does, however, control monetary policy in an attempt to influence the direction of the US economy. Let’s explore the history of the Federal Reserve, its role and how it carries out its mandate.

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Most people would like to see a gain of 21.6 percent on their annual statement. That was the annual return for the Standard & Poor (S&P) 500 Index during 2017. In general, U.S. stock indexes did quite well last year – and the year before, too. For instance, the S&P 500 Index was up 11.8 percent in 2016.1

While no one can invest directly in an index (many mutual fund companies offer index based fund options) recent returns make it easy to understand why U.S. stock markets have been popular with investors.  Morningstar reported record amounts of money flowed into various types U.S. stock investments during 2017.2  Was this a result of the proverbial “herd mentality”?  Whenever large numbers of investors are doing the same thing, we believe a prudent course of action is to step back, take a breath, and evaluate the situation. Here are two questions that investors should consider:

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The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, a measure that has been characterized as the first major reform of the Internal Revenue Code in 31 years, received final approval from the House and the Senate on December 20, and was signed into law by President Trump two days later on December 22.
The legislation slashes the top corporate tax rate to 21%, lowers the top marginal rate for individual taxpayers to 37%, eliminates or scales back several popular deductions, reduces taxes on business income earned by pass-through businesses, doubles the estate tax exemption, and substantially enhances immediate expensing of capital investments.

Click here for more details about the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017:

 

 

Friday’s bond market sell-off was likely precipitated by a strong non-farm payroll report for January which showed 200k new jobs as well as a positive December report.  Adding to inflation concerns was the report’s reading on wages, which grew at an annual 2.9% rate.  The Fed left interest rates unchanged after last week’s FOMC meeting, but their statement pointed to inflation risk in 2018.  They also noted that consumer spending was “solid” (versus their former description of “moderate”).

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As everyone knows, stocks went into a dramatic spiral on Monday, February 5th, as the DJIA plummeted almost 1,600 points, which was the biggest point decline in history. But right before the market closed, buyers charged back into the market and limited the damage – but the DJIA still lost 1,175 points.

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