Afternoon Coffee: US Economy Shows Several Signs of Continued Growth, A Neural Network for Rap

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A column in the New York Times earlier this week laid out an uplifting picture of the U.S. economy. Despite a turbulent week of news from the White House, several recent data points have indicated that the economy’s eight-year expansion shows no sign of ending in the near future. Here are just a few numbers that have economists feeling optimistic about 2017:

  • Retail sales rose 0.4% in January, or a booming 0.8% when auto sales are excluded
  • The Consumer Price Index rose 0.6%; even excluding volatile food and energy, it was up 0.3%
  • The economy added 227,000 jobs in January despite an unemployment rate that is already low, and the number of people filing new claims for jobless benefits each week keeps hitting lows not seen since the 1970s

Kanye as One AI’s Muse

A high schooler created a machine learning system that can autogenerate new rap songs, according to tech site Boing Boing. The project used a library of 6,000 Kanye West lines to learn the finer points of the genre. And if a high school computer science club can teach a computer to rap, you better believe AI is coming for your contracts, your POs and, soon, your heartstrings.

Retail Execs Talk Border Tax with Trump

Chief executives from Target, Best Buy, Gap and other major retailers met with President Donald Trump Wednesday to lobby against a proposed border tax, the Wall Street Journal reports. The plan floated by the administration would hurt profits at these firms, the executives said, because they rely heavily on overseas factories for the goods they sell.

Snuggies Precedent Established

And finally, more major news from federal court: Snuggies should be classified as blankets for tariff purposes, not as robes or other vestments, Bloomberg reports. The judge found it important that “Snuggies open in the back and don’t have closures.”

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