At a Glance: Worldwide Credit Conditions

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CREDIT BRIEFINGS

LOWER GROWTH. In April, the International Monetary Fund lowered its forecast for 2003 global economic growth to a "subnormal" 3.2 percent, down from the 3.7 percent predicted in September 2002. The lower growth forecast was prompted by concerns about fallout from the war in Iraq, terrorism and other factors undermining the fragile recovery. The IMF predicts growth of 4.1 percent for 2004.

TRADE STAGNATES. The total value of merchandise trade in OECD countries stagnated in the fourth quarter of 2002 with exports decreasing by 0.8 percent and imports increasing by only 1.4 percent. Compared with the fourth quarter of 2001 when trade contracted considerably 2002 export and import values rose by 11.7 percent and 13.4 percent respectively.

TRANSPARENCY IN IRAQ. Transparency and accountability must be the watchwords for postwar reconstruction in Iraq following the endemic corruption of the Hussein government, according to Transparency International, a nongovernmental anti-corruption organization. …