Former General Electric Chairman and CEO Jack Welch says “things are soft” in the U.S. economy, and he expects companies’ earnings to be down in the first half of the year.

“And we’re in a slowdown. There’s no question,” Welch told Fox News’s Neil Cavuto on Monday.

Both the stock market and oil prices plunged again on Monday, continuing what has been a discouraging year so far.

The Dow fell 177.92 points, or 1.1 percent, to 16,027.05 on Monday. The Standard & Poor’s 500 lost 26.61 points, or 1.4 percent, closing at 1,853.44. The Nasdaq composite dropped 79.39 points, or 1.8 percent, to 4,283.75. The index is within 110 points of being in what Wall Street considers a bear market, or a 20 percent drop from its high.

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