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Press Release

Economic Growth Outlook Remains Little Changed Despite First-Quarter Stall

April 15, 2016


Pete Bakel


WASHINGTON, DC – Economic growth stalled during the first quarter of 2016 but the full-year outlook remains little changed at 1.9 percent, according to Fannie Mae’s (FNMA/OTC) Economic & Strategic Research (ESR) Group’s April 2016 Economic and Housing Outlook. Consumer and business spending and net exports came in below expectations, and trade, inventory, and business investment likely weighed heavily on GDP in the first quarter. However, the ESR Group does not view weakness in the first quarter as the start of deteriorating economic activity and expects slightly better growth in the second quarter buoyed by a pick-up in consumer spending that should continue over the rest of the year.

“We expect a healthy labor market, the solid hiring trend seen during the last few months, and stronger household incomes to boost consumer spending over the rest of the year despite weak economic activity in the first quarter,” said Fannie Mae Chief Economist Doug Duncan. “The fourth consecutive increase in the labor force participation rate amid solid job growth has slowed the decline in the unemployment rate, and, combined with anemic productivity growth, may help explain the failure of wages to accelerate more rapidly. With the uptrend in the labor force participation rate and subdued wage pressure, the Fed appears to feel less urgency for a second fed funds rate hike, particularly given that risks to global economic and financial developments are tilted to the downside. We now expect only one rate hike in 2016 in the second half of the year.”

“Our forecasts for housing activity, mortgage rates, and mortgage originations are little changed in the April forecast. We expect total mortgage originations to decline about 9.0 percent in 2016 to $1.56 trillion, with a refinance share of 40 percent,” said Duncan. “Sustained improvement in the labor market and personal incomes among young adults should draw more potential homebuyers into the housing market, but many will continue to face affordability challenges. Home price growth has been rising at a faster clip than incomes, and the increasing supply of single-family housing is skewed toward larger and less affordable homes. These factors continue to weigh on housing affordability, particularly for first-time homebuyers.”

Visit the Economic & Strategic Research site at to read the full April 2016 Economic Outlook, including the Economic Developments Commentary, Economic Forecast, Housing Forecast, and Multifamily Market Commentary. To receive e-mail updates with other housing market research from Fannie Mae's Economic & Strategic Research Group, please click here.

Opinions, analyses, estimates, forecasts, and other views of Fannie Mae's Economic & Strategic Research (ESR) Group included in these materials should not be construed as indicating Fannie Mae's business prospects or expected results, are based on a number of assumptions, and are subject to change without notice. How this information affects Fannie Mae will depend on many factors. Although the ESR Group bases its opinions, analyses, estimates, forecasts, and other views on information it considers reliable, it does not guarantee that the information provided in these materials is accurate, current, or suitable for any particular purpose. Changes in the assumptions or the information underlying these views could produce materially different results. The analyses, opinions, estimates, forecasts, and other views published by the ESR Group represent the views of that group as of the date indicated and do not necessarily represent the views of Fannie Mae or its management.

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