Business

Business News at a Glance

Posted December 31, 2017 8:55 p.m. EST

Democrats in High-Tax States Plot to Blunt Impact of New Tax Law

Democrats in high-cost, high-tax states are plotting ways to do what their states’ representatives in Congress could not: blunt the impact of the Republican tax overhaul. Governors and legislative leaders in New York, California and other states are considering legal challenges to elements of the law that they say unfairly single out parts of the country. They are looking at ways of raising revenue that aren’t penalized by the law. And they are considering changing their state tax codes to allow residents to take advantage of other federal tax breaks — in effect, restoring deductions the tax law scaled back.

Tax Law Offers a Carrot to Gig Workers. But It May Have Costs.

The new tax law is likely to accelerate a trend in the U.S. economy by rewarding workers who sever formal relationships with their employers and become contractors. Cable repairmen and delivery drivers, some of whom find work through gig economy apps like Uber, may be lured into contracting arrangements. That’s because a provision in the tax law allows sole proprietors — along with owners of partnerships or other pass-through entities — to deduct 20 percent of their revenue from their taxable income. The tax savings, which could be around $15,000 per year for affluent couples, may prove enticing to workers.

How Do You Vote? 50 Million Google Images Give a Clue

What vehicle is most strongly associated with Republican voting districts? Extended-cab pickup trucks. For Democratic districts? Sedans. Researchers working on a project at Stanford University reached those conclusions by analyzing 50 million images and location data from Google Street View. For the first time, helped by advances in artificial intelligence, researchers are able to analyze large quantities of images, pulling out data that can be sorted and mined to predict things like income, political leanings and buying habits. The car-image project involved 50 million images. In them, 22 million cars were identified, and then classified into more than 2,600 categories.

How Do You Turn an Ad Into a Meme? Two Words: Dilly Dilly

A nonsense phrase from an advertisement set in medieval times has broken through to become a common barroom cheer and online force: Dilly dilly. The implication of the advertisement that debuted in August featuring that phrase is that Bud Light is for you and all of your friends; fancy craft beer is only for yourself. The ad was one of six produced by advertising agency Wieden & Kennedy. No one anticipated how much “dilly dilly” would spread. Seemingly every NFL touchdown was greeted by cries of “dilly dilly” on social media. The ad-makers succeeded in creating a genuine meme.

‘Last Jedi’ Is 2017’s Box Office Winner in a Women-Led Year

The three most popular movies at theaters in the United States and Canada in 2017 — “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “Wonder Woman” — were each driven by female characters, something that has not happened in at least 37 years, as far back as full box office data is available. The top comedy of the year, “Girls Trip,” was also anchored by women. Between Friday and Sunday, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” (Walt Disney Studios) collected an estimated $52.4 million to become the No. 1 movie of 2017 in North America.

Fed’s December Meeting Minutes May Provide Clues

The Federal Reserve was full of optimism at the end of 2017. The Fed raised its benchmark interest rate at its final meeting of the year and issued a revised economic forecast predicting faster growth in 2018, citing the effects of a major federal tax cut. The Fed said it did not anticipate raising interest rates more quickly in response to faster growth. The question is why the Fed is willing to let the good times roll. The minutes of the December meeting, which the Fed plans to release Wednesday, may provide answers.