Due in no small part to an overwhelming sense of political fatigue, some investors and pundits headed into the New Year with a decidedly bearish outlook. For investors, the one thing that cannot be spun is the raw data.

Since mid-2015, we have been likening our sluggish economy to a plane flying at low altitude (“Flying at Low Altitude”). While the economy is indeed growing (the plane is airborne), it is nevertheless chugging along at a meager rate (low altitude). Therefore, any economic soft patches (turbulence) that occur near the zero GDP line (lower altitude) cause considerably more angst than periodic turbulence that’s experienced when the economy is humming along north of 5% (cruising altitude with no need for seatbelts). The margin for error is simply far smaller at low altitude.

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