The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported this morning that global economic growth continues, but at a sluggish pace that leaves the world economy exposed to risks. The IMF shaved its global growth forecast for 2016 to 3.2% from 3.4% originally forecasted. A spokesperson said, "Persistent slow growth has scarring effects that themselves reduce potential output and with it, demand and investment.” In the United States, expected growth this year is flat at 2.4%, with a modest uptick in 2017, said the IMF.
Small business optimism edged lower in March amid worries about sales and profits, yet another signal that economic growth in the fourth quarter could be sharply lower than the previous quarter. The National Federation of Independent Business reported that its small business optimism index fell 0.3 point to 92.6 in March, the lowest reading since February 2014. The index has fallen from a reading of 100 in December 2014 and is now below its 42-year average of 98.
Analytics firm CoreLogic reports that there were 34,000 completed foreclosures in February, a 10% decrease from the 38,000 completed in February 2015. In addition, foreclosure inventory fell by nearly 24% in the same time period. From January to February, completed foreclosures declined 2.6%. Completed foreclosures are an indication of the total number of homes actually lost to foreclosure. Frank Nothaft, chief economist at CoreLogic said, "Job creation averaged 207,000 during the first two months of 2016, and incomes grew over the past year. More income and improved household finances helped bring serious delinquency down in nearly every state.