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The first income tax ever was in 1404 in England.
The Markets

In like a lion…

Investors roared into 2018.

During the first week of the first quarter of the New Year, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose above 25,000 for the first time ever. Less than two weeks later, it closed above 26,000. The Standard & Poor’s (S&P) 500 Index and NASDAQ Composite also reached new all-time highs.

Strong performance was supported by strong fundamentals. In December 2017, Mohamed A. El-Erian wrote in BloombergView economic and policy fundamentals, including synchronized global recovery, progress on U.S. tax reform, improved certainty around Brexit, and orderly acceptance of changing U.S. monetary policy, “…reinforce the prospects for better actual and future growth, thereby increasing the possibility of improved fundamentals validating notably elevated asset prices.”

During the first quarter, the global economy remained robust, reported Forbes. American companies were profitable (profitability is measured by earnings) and earnings per share for the S&P 500 Index are expected to increase during 2018. FactSet reported analysts currently estimate the S&P 500 Index will deliver double-digit earnings growth (18.5 percent overall) during 2018. Here’s what the analysts anticipate each quarter:

• Q1: Earnings growth of 17.3 percent 
• Q2: Earnings growth of 19.1 percent 
• Q3: Earnings growth of 20.9 percent 
• Q4: Earnings growth of 17.1 percent 

Improving expectations for American companies can be credited, in large part, to tax reform, which lowered corporate tax rates significantly. In addition, rising oil prices may help companies in the Energy sector, and rising interest rates may give a boost to companies in the Financials sector.

Despite a robust global economy, strong earnings, and improving earnings per share (EPS) expectations, the major U.S. stock indices delivered negative quarterly returns for the first time since 2015. On March 29, the last trading day of the quarter, the Dow closed at about 24,100.

If fundamentals are strong, why did major indices in the United States (and many indices around the world) finish the quarter lower? Financial Times suggested uncertainty might have something to do with the retreat:

“The tax cut has been achieved. We are no longer so sure that [President Trump’s] remaining ideas are so good, and most investors think his ideas about trade are downright terrible. And so the market has started reacting to presidential tweets… Most importantly, though, key assumptions have been stripped away. We can no longer rely on low volatility. And critically, the positive view of a low-inflation strong-growth future has been called into question – but only after the stock market had priced in that assumption as a done deal.”

Market declines may also reflect concern about valuations. One financial professional told Financial Times many asset classes have gone from being very expensive to being expensive. They haven’t yet gotten inexpensive.

Out like a lamb…

The last week of the quarter was a good one for U.S. stock markets, which pushed higher. However, the major indices were unable to overcome deficits accumulated earlier in the quarter. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 2.4 percent last week, finishing the quarter down 2.5 percent. The S&P 500 Index was up 2.0 percent last week, down 1.2 percent for the quarter. Likewise, the NASDAQ bounced 1.0 percent last week, but ended the quarter down 2.3 percent, reported Barron’s.
Janelle Shane at wrote, “When computers try to imitate humans, they often get confused. But simulated brain cells in so-called neural networks can mimic our problem-solving skills. An AI will look at a dataset, figure out its governing rules, and use those instructions to make something new. We already employ these bots to recognize faces, drive cars, and caption images for the blind. But can a computer cook?”

Shane addressed the question by training a computer’s neural network to write a recipe. The computer reviewed a dataset of more than 24,000 online recipes (647 of them began with the word chocolate and 8 included blood as an ingredient). After two days of processing, the network delivered a remarkable recipe that includes a title, category, ingredients, and directions, although the nonsensical word choices are likely to leave bakers uncertain about how to proceed:

4 oz cocoa; finely ground
1teaspoon butter
½ cup milk
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ cup rice cream, chopped
1 lb cream
1 sesame peel


1 large egg
1 powdered sugar serving barme
¼ cup butter or margarine, melted

Brown sugar, chocolate; baking powder, beer, lemon juice and salt in chunk in greased 9x2 inch cake. Chill until golden brown and bubbly. Place serve garlic half by pieoun on top to make more use bay. Place in frying pan in preheated oven. Sprinkle with fresh parsley for cooking. Eating dish to hect in pot of the oil, pullover half-and half…Yield: 1 cake”

AI seems to have missed an important governing rule for recipes: Instructions should not include unlisted ingredients and all ingredients should be included in the instructions. DATE HOLY is particularly baffling. The author suggested the neural network might have been trying for frosting. It is a cake, after all. 

Weekly Focus – Think About It 

“We are surrounded by hysteria about the future of artificial intelligence and robotics – hysteria about how powerful they will become, how quickly, and what they will do to jobs…Mistaken predictions lead to fears of things that are not going to happen, whether it’s the wide-scale destruction of jobs, the Singularity, or the advent of AI that has values different from ours and might try to destroy us. We need to push back on these mistakes.” 
--Rodney Brooks, Australian robotics entrepreneur

11 Simple Ways to Protect Your Privacy Online

Privacy is an increasingly rare commodity these days. Just search for yourself on and you might be surprised at the number of companies that claim to have information about your family, income, address, phone number and much, much more.

1. Don’t fill out your social media profile.
The more information you share online, the easier it’s going to be for someone to get their hands on it. Don’t cooperate.Take a look at your social media profiles and keep them barren. The people who need to know your birth date, email address and phone number already have them.

2. Be choosy about sharing your social security number—even the last 4 digits.
Think twice about sharing your social security number with anyone, unless it’s your bank, a credit bureau, a company that wants to do a background check on you or some other entity that has to report to the IRS. If someone gets their hands on it and has information such your birth date and address they can steal your identity and take out credit cards and pile up other debt in your name.The last four are often used by banks an other institutions to reset your password for access your account.

3. Lock down your hardware.
Set up your PC to require a password when it wakes from sleep or boots up. Sure, you may trust the people who live in your house, but what if your laptop is stolen or you lose it.Same thing with your mobile devices. Not only should you use a passcode to access them every time you use them, install an app that will locate your phone or tablet if it’s lost or stolen, as well as lock it or wipe it clean of any data so a stranger can’t get access to the data saved on it.

4. Turn on private browsing.
If you don’t want anyone with physical access to your computer to see where you’re hanging out online you should enable “private browsing,” a setting available in each major web browser. It deletes cookies, temporary Internet files and browsing history after you close the window. Every company that advertises online is interested in knowing what sites you visit, what you buy, who you’re friends with on social networks, what you like and more. By gathering information about your online activities they can serve you targeted ads that are more likely to entice you to buy something.

5. Use a password vault that generates and remembers strong and unique passwords.
Most people know better than to use the same password for more than one website or application. In reality, it can be impossible to remember a different one for the dozens of online services you use. The problem with using the same password in more than one place is if someone gets their hands on your password, they can access all your accounts and cause all sorts of trouble.

6. Use two-factor authentication.
You can lock down your Facebook, Google, Dropbox, Apple ID,  Microsoft , Twitter and other accounts with two-factor authentication. That means that when you log in, you’ll also need to enter a special code that the site texts to your phone.

7. Set up a Google alert for your name.
This is a simple way to keep an eye on anything someone might be saying about you on the web. It’s just a matter of telling Google what to look for (in this case, your name), as well as what kinds of web pages to search, how often to search and what email address the search engine giant should use to send you notifications.

8. Pay for things with cash.
According to Business Insider, credit card companies are selling your purchase data to advertisers. Don’t want companies knowing what you’re buying or other potentially embarrassing habits? Buy things the old fashioned way—with coins and bills.

9. Keep your social network activity private.
Check your Facebook settings and make sure only friends can see what you’re doing. Go to the settings cog in the upper right hand corner of your screen, then click on Privacy Settings >> Who can see my stuff.

On Twitter, click on the settings cog, then Settings. From there you can adjust all sorts of privacy settings, such as a box that gives Twitter permission to add your location to tweets as well as the ability to make your tweets private, meaning only people you approve can see them.

If you use Google+, go to Home >> Settings. There you can adjust things like who can interact with you, comment on your posts or start a conversation with you.

10. Don’t give our your zip code when making credit card purchases.
Often stores will ask for your zip code when you’re checking out with a credit card. Don’t give it to them unless you want to donate your details to their marketing database. By matching your name, taken from your credit card, with your zip code, companies can more easily mine more information, including your address, phone number and email address.

11. Lie when setting up password security questions.
“What is your mother’s maiden name?” or “In what city were you born?” are common questions websites often ask you to answer so as to supposedly keep your account safe from intruders. In reality, there’s nothing secure about such generic queries. That’s because someone who wants access to your account could easily do some Internet research to dig up the answers.

Not sure you can remember your lies? You can create “accounts” in your password manager just for this purpose.
Best Regards,
Don's Email Signiture
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