Stifel Bits

January 25, 2023

The Appetizer

“I respectfully urge Congress to act promptly to protect the full faith and credit of the United States.”

  • U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen asking Congress politely for a raise in the government’s credit limit.

Now, on to the numbers. Drum roll, please …

  • -8.8%: The decline in used car prices in December versus a year ago, the largest decline since June 2009.
  • 10%: The percentage of new cars sold globally in 2022 that were electric vehicles.
  • 38,000: The number of career points for LeBron James, joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the only players in NBA history to pass the mark.
  • 18 million: The number of 90-pound boxes of oranges that Florida is expected to produce in 2023, a 93% decline from Florida’s peak output in 1998.
  • $30 million: The inheritance that Oprah Winfrey’s three dogs will receive.

Dig In
Machine Learning

Since its launch in November, ChatGPT has spawned headlines proclaiming doomsday for many jobs and earned a ban by the New York City Public Schools. How come? The artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot provides answers to just about any question, which are often so good that it’s hard to tell a computer wrote it.

At the heart of ChatGPT is machine learning, a subset of the artificial intelligence field, which allows a computer to program itself through “experience.” Long story short: A computer can learn by analyzing data, such as recorded conversations, to identify patterns that it then uses to make predictions or give answers. The more experience – data – the more accurate the results.

It’s taken a long time to get where we are today: Scientists have been working on machine learning since the 1950s. Now, it’s everywhere. Amazon’s Alexa? Machine learning. Your Netflix suggestions? Machine learning. Autonomous vehicles? You get the idea.

Before you panic too much, AI and machine learning still has limitations. For example: it’s easily tricked, isn’t always correct, and can’t understand context – all factors that will require human oversight for the foreseeable future.

Weekly Specials

We hopped into the Year of the Rabbit on Sunday, kicking off 15 days of festivities for billions around the globe. The Lunar New Year is China’s biggest holiday and travel event, with this year’s being the first since emerging from its zero-COVID policies. The rabbit symbolizes peace, tranquility, and working smarter not harder – sounds good to us.

After “inflation” wore out our keyboards last year, it’s refreshing to finally type deflation. Yep, you read that right: December actually saw some year-over-year price drops. Smartphone prices led the way down, falling 22.2% compared to the previous year. TVs (-14.4%), used cars and trucks (-8.8%), video equipment (-8.6%), and beef (-6.7%) rounded out the top five deflators.

Congress, you’re on the clock. The U.S. reached its debt limit last Thursday, forcing the Treasury Department to take special measures to keep paying the government’s bills. These “extraordinary measures” – accounting tricks, such as suspending investments for some government employee benefit funds – should allow the Treasury continue paying on its obligations until early June.

Corporate Lunch

Apple indefinitely postponed its augmented reality glasses due to technical challenges … but still plans to release their $3,000 mixed-reality headset later this year.

Netflix announced it’s hiring of a flight attendant for one of its private jets for $385,000. Makes sense … the company added 7.66 million subscribers during the fourth quarter.

Southwest Airlines pilots’ union plans to hold a vote that could give it the power to call a potential strike.

Don’t stop the party … Oh, wait … Party City filed for bankruptcy due to competition and years of financial losses, but secured $150 million in financing to keep its stores open.

Just when you thought there couldn’t be anymore versions of the MacBook, Apple proves you wrong – Apple is introducing a new Mac Mini computer!

Consumer products giant Procter & Gamble sales fell for the first time in years as inflation brought consumer to the off brands … I mean, the cheaper options.

Elon Musk is showing off his accounting skills, with Twitter’s revenue down 40%, the company has to cut costs and is auctioning off several items. A neon logo sign is fetching a bid for $17,500.

drawing of a table setting

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