Investors and CEOs alike say the nation’s economic outlook is brightening. Why are they so optimistic?
The economic outlook is brightening for chief executive officers at the nation’s largest firms, according to a first quarter study announced today by the Business Roundtable. Millionaire Corner research shows the nation’s wealthiest investors share this increasingly optimistic view.
An increasing number of CEOs expect their companies to increase sales, capital spending and hiring, compared to the fourth quarter of 2011, according to the latest quarterly report from the Business Roundtable, an association of CEOs at leading U.S. companies. More than 80 percent of the 128 CEOs surveyed said they expect sales to go up, an increase of 12 percent from the end of last year. Forty-eight percent anticipate an increase in capital spending, a jump of 16 percent, and more than 40 percent expect hiring to pick up, a 7 percent increase from last quarter. The CEOs also upgraded their estimates for real GDP – a common measure of economic growth – to 2.3 percent, up from 2 percent last quarter.
“The BRT survey results indicate greater overall economic optimism among member CEOs compared to last quarter,” said Jim McNerney, who heads The Boeing Company as well as the Business Roundtable, in a prepared statement. The group’s CEO Economic Outlook Survey Index – a composite of CEO expectations for the next six months – rose to 96.9 in the first quarter of this year, up from 77.9 in the fourth quarter of 2011 but below the 109.9 level reported at the end of the second quarter of 2011.
“Several factors, among them oil prices, a sluggish European economy, political uncertainty in the United States and questions about future growth in Asia, remain as potential obstacles to higher rates of economic growth in the United States,” said McNerney.
The majority of U.S. investors share in this increasingly optimistic economic outlook, according to a survey of more than 900 individuals from a range of wealth levels conducted by Millionaire Corner in March. More than 56 percent of survey participants say the U.S. economy is stronger now than it was a year ago, though households with investable assets of $1 million or more express significantly higher levels of optimism than those with less than $100,000.
This brighter economic outlook is based primarily on the drop in the unemployment rate, though about 38 percent say the Dow Jones Industrial Average exceeding 13,000 points is the key reason to believe the U.S. economy has strengthened over the past year. Households with less than $100,000 in investable assets are much more likely to base their increased optimism on rising employment.
Investors are most likely to look to sustained economic growth over the next 12 months as the main indication that the economy continues to improve, but more than 22 percent view an unemployment rate below 6 percent as the primary sign of an improving economy.