The IMF on Thursday projected moderate growth for the US over the next year of 2% to 2.3%, and the central bank has indicated it would be intervening to pick up the economy.
The fund warned the US it could lose even that - and hit zero growth - because of the ongoing political gridlock over temporary taxes and spending.
The modest growth of 2% in 2012 and 2.3% in 2013 was attributed to continued deleveraging by households (spending shy), fiscal restraint and low global demand.
"Households are projected to continue the process of balance sheet repair," said the fund in a report released Thursday, as government restricts spending.
The continuing crisis in Europe could make the US recovery trickier. "A worsening of the euro area debt crisis that involves these economies may thus affect the US, through a variety of channels."
In a separate, unrelated move, the US Federal Reserve said it will "closely monitor" the economy and will "provide additional accommodation as needed to promote a stronger economic recovery."