CEOs expect the U.S. economy to slow and predict sales, capital spending and hiring to decline as well. Learn more.
Top U.S. corporate leaders have sharply reduced their outlook for the national economy, according to a quarterly report released today by the Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers from firms comprising nearly one-third of the total value of the U.S. stock market.
Sentiment fell to 66 points in the third quarter of 2012, down from 89.1 in the second quarter, according to the latest Business Roundtable CEO Economic Outlook Survey Index. The reading is the lowest in three years and the third largest quarterly drop in the survey’s history. The sharp decrease in optimism is reflected in lower expectations for corporate sales, capital spending and hiring over the next six months.
“CEOs foresee slower overall economic growth for 2012 and have lower expectations for sales, capital expenditures and hiring compared to last quarter,” JimMcNerney, roundtable chair and head of The Boeing Company, said in a statement. “The downshift in quarterly sentiment reflects continuing concern about the strength of the recovery, including uncertainty over the approaching fiscal cliff and accompanying debates about the tax code, sequestration and the debt ceiling.”
Roundtable members have lowered their expectation for economic growth for 2012, predicting real GDP will expand at the rate of 1.9 percent, down from the second quarter estimate of 2.1 percent. Expectations for company sales, capital spending and employment all fell in the third quarter, with 17 percent less CEOs expecting an increase in sales, 13 percent less anticipating higher capital spending, and 7 percent less expecting hiring to pick up in the next six months. At the end of the third quarter, only 29 percent of roundtable members believed their company would increase hiring, while more than one-third expected hiring to slow.
The upcoming general election is weighing heavily on the minds of the nation’s CEOs, according to a monthly survey conducted by Millionaire Corner in September. More than 68 percent of CEOs rated their level of worry about the elections as a “1” or “2” on a 10-point scale, with 10 equaling “not at all worried” and 1 equaling “very worried.”
What are CEOs most worried about? More than 58 percent cite the economy as the most important issue affecting their vote, while nearly 15 percent cite the national debt and more than 10 percent, healthcare, according to our research.