The past two winters, and four of the last five, the U.S. economy ran into a snowbank. Since the economic recovery began in late 2009, professional economists have forecast decent growth at the start of each year, only to see initial reports on gross domestic product fall well short of expectations.
As we finish yet another year when the U.S. economy is projected to be among the strongest in the world, what are the chances it can avoid yet another first-quarter skid?
In the first quarters of 2015 and 2014, the initial, or "advance" estimate of GDP were barely above zero, defying forecasts around 1 percent — forecasts which had already been cut from above 2 percent. One of those reports was revised to an outright decline in economic activity, and the other bumped higher.