Big Budget- A New Jersey township is demanding that a local resident pay $75,000 to defray the costs connected to his massive Christmas light display. For the past 15 years, Tom Apruzzi of Old Bridge has staged a 70,000-light Christmas spectacular on his front lawn, complete with automated figures and synchronized music. But the crowd of nightly spectators has swelled to 1,000—and officials want him to pay $2,000 a day to offset the costs of bringing in cops to control people and traffic. Apruzzi is trying to raise $75,000 online, but insists the show will go on. “We are not shutting down the Christmas lights show—period,” he said.
Star Wars Was Expected to Be a Flop- Star Wars had a budget of $8 million, which 20th Century Fox was reluctant to give to George Lucas, so he accepted a lower salary in order to keep the budget, but asked for full merchandising rights if the film made sequels.
With help and encouragement from friends like Steven Spielberg, he fixed up the film. It was an instant hit, making $1.5 million in its limited release. It went on to make $775 million around the world, and since Lucas obtained full merchandising rights, he became incredibly rich. More recently, Disney picked up the entire franchise for $4 billion.
Honorable Mention- When Kevin Booth made an early-morning stop at a food bank in Sumner, Wash., he hoped only to pick up some bread that the workers leave out for homeless people like him. But Booth noticed a brown paper bag next to the breadbox, and looking inside, discovered it was stuffed with $17,000 in cash. Rather than walk off with the haul, Booth handed it to a volunteer inside the pantry. No one claimed the money after a 90-day waiting period, so police let the food bank—which feeds 1,000 people a month—keep it. “There are a lot of people who would have taken it,” Booth said. “I’m just not that person.”
Weekly Focus – Think About It
“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”
-Virginia Woolf, quoted in The Times (U.K.)
It never feels good when the stock market heads south, and that’s what happened last week. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (S&P 500), Dow Jones Industrial Average, and Nasdaq Composite all moved into correction territory, which means the indices have fallen 10 percent or more from their previous peaks.
If you look at corporate earnings, the decline in U.S. stock values may seem a bit of a head scratcher. During the third quarter of 2018, almost four-fifths (78 percent) of companies in the S&P 500 were more profitable than analysts expected, according to FactSet Insight. Earnings grew by 25.9 percent – the fastest growth rate since 2010.
When you remember the stock market is a leading indicator, the mystery is resolved. Share prices reflect what investors expect will happen in the future, and third quarter earnings are in the past.
So, what moved the market last week? Investors’ concerns included slowing global economic growth. Dave Shellock of Financial Times reported:
“World equities closed out the week on a soft note as disappointing economic reports out of China and the eurozone heightened concern over the outlook for global growth…the big focus was on China, where activity and spending data confirmed that the country’s economy had a dismal November.”
Monetary policy and geopolitical issues, including the possibility of a U.S. government shutdown and ongoing Brexit follies, contributed to investor pessimism. The American Association of Individual Investors Sentiment Survey showed a 17-point decline in bullish sentiment and an 18.4-point increase in bearish sentiment.
When stock markets leave you feeling like Santa dropped coal in your stocking, it may be helpful to remember the words of Warren Buffett, “Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.”
WHEN THE HOLIDAYS ARE JUST TOO MUCH. Around the holidays, it’s easy to become stressed and overwhelmed. Psychology Today offered some suggestions that may help you stay merry and bright, no matter what the season brings.
- Don’t lose sight of what makes you happy. It’s easy to become obsessed with everything being perfect. If you find yourself snapping because the shopper next to you got the last one, the holiday light display is sagging, or the table isn’t set just right, take a deep breath. True happiness often is found in everyday routines and healthy relationships.
- Give thanks for what you have. This seems like a natural corollary to point number one. Instead of focusing on what’s not quite right, redirect your thinking. Sure, your great aunt’s stories are inappropriate, and the mashed potato incident wasn’t great, but there are some good moments, too. If you can, find time to write down the things for which you are grateful to have in your life. Then, review it as needed.
- Do nice things for other people. Not everyone has a warm coat, much less a warm home and a patience-trying holiday meal. Giving to others can help give meaning to the season. You could donate to a favorite charity, help out at a food pantry or a shelter, or visit elderly neighbors. One of the very best aspects of giving is that it can make us happier.
- Embrace experiences. If you want to have a memorable holiday, don’t buy lots of gifts. Give experiences. Happiness research suggests, “…happiness is derived from experiences, not things…when they are shared, experiences allow us to get closer to others in a way impossible with inanimate objects that we can buy,” reported Paul Ratner on BigThink.com.
John Klevens, CFP
Sources: The Week Magazine, ABCnews.go.com
Portions of this newsletter has been prepared by Peak Advisor