By John S. McClenahen Although America's large federal budget deficit and generally rising interest rates raise concerns about future growth, the International Monetary and Financial Committee of the Board of Governors of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) came out of this past weekend's meeting in Washington, D.C., relatively upbeat on the global economy. The panel, for instance, characterized the U.S. economy as "expanding briskly" and noted "Japan's economy continues to recover." Since the committee's previous meeting in September 2003, "industrial production and global trade have picked up sharply, and improved prospects in most regions point to stronger global growth going forward," the IMF panel stressed. "The committee encourages countries to take advantage of the current environment to strengthen the foundations for sustainable growth. Priorities for action include: medium-term fiscal consolidation in the United States; acceleration of structural reforms in the euro area; and continued banking and corporate reforms in Japan."