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Consumers, deficit top CFO worries for 2014: Poll

The Federal Reserve is cutting its monthly bond purchases to $75 billion from $85 billion, taking its first step toward unwinding the unprecedented stimulus that Bernanke put in place to help the economy recover from the worst recession since the 1930s.
Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images
The Federal Reserve is cutting its monthly bond purchases to $75 billion from $85 billion, taking its first step toward unwinding the unprecedented stimulus that Bernanke put in place to help the economy recover from the worst recession since the 1930s.

The members of the exclusive CNBC Global CFO Council have weighed in with their 2014 predictions—and admitted that it's the global economy that is keeping them up at night. A little more than 42 percent of the council's CFOs—who manage more than $2 trillion in market capitalization from both public and private companies—said the world economy is the largest external risk facing their firms, in a survey conducted in the first half of December by CNBC. Also high on the list: Fed policy.

The majority said they expect tapering to begin in the first quarter of next year. That means the council correctly predicted yesterday's Fed announcement that it would reduce its bond-buying program by $10 billion a month beginning in January 2014. The council expects a slightly negative impact on the markets once tapering begins but said that the long-term impact will be slightly positive.

As the council's firms gear up for a year of hashing out the health-care woes they are dealing with, given all the changes coming their way, 47 percent said they believe that new health-care law will work with some changes. When we asked that same question in late October, only 36 percent had said it would work with some changes.


Nobody on the council said the law will work as it is now. Additionally, rising health-care costs are on their minds, but the majority—76.5 percent—say costs will only increase slightly. On a personal level, less than 30 percent of council members say they support the health-care law.

(Read more: CFO survey: Penalties are cheaper than health care)

As the debate between workers and companies over a living wage continues, the CFO Council provided some insight into how businesses feel about the issue. About 40 percent say raising the federal minimum wage to $15/hr would have a negative or strongly negative impact on U.S. economic growth, and nearly half say Congress should not raise the minimum. But the council does not think a higher minimum wage would lead to layoffs: Less than 12 percent said a higher minimum wage would force their firm to cut jobs.

The full results of this year's final CNBC Global CFO Council survey can be found below.

By Anthony Volastro, Segment Producer, CNBC. Follow him on Twitter @VolastroCNBC

CNBC Global CFO Council

Video

  • Jan Siegmund, ADP CFO, and Bill Gerber, TD Ameritrade CFO, discuss how America's corporate leaders are viewing today's employment data and the current state of the U.S. economy.

  • Jon Moeller, Procter & Gamble CFO, breaks down P&G's quarterly numbers and discusses the company's cost-cutting measures.

  • UPS CFO Kurt Kuehn on CNBC's Squawk on the Street on his company's decision to stop deliveries for illegal online pharmacies and pay $40 million to end a Federal criminal probe into its shipping practices. Rival FedEx was in court today fighting similar charges.