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The U.S. economy has come a long way since the depths of the financial crisis. The unemployment rate was cut in half, from 10 percent in October 2009 to 5 percent in October 2015. The housing market has turned from a source of vulnerability to a source of strength, and low energy prices and cheaper imports are supporting increases in consumer spending.

The road to recovery has been slow, but after seven years of ultra-accommodative monetary policy, the Federal Reserve finally appears ready to raise interest rates off of zero.

This is important for the economy and investors alike—not only because an increase in rates will mark a major shift in U.S. monetary policy, but also because it is likely to occur just after the European Central Bank (ECB) extended its quantitative easing stimulus program and reduced interest rates to negative 0.3 percent. The policy divergence among central banks is likely to remain a key factor driving the risks and rewards for global investors into 2016.

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