The injection of easy money across the globe in recent years appears to be finding its way into the coffers of big business, according to a new survey of leading chief financial officers conducted by CNBC.
CNBC asked 51 CFOs from Europe and Asia who make up the CNBC CFO council to give their insight into the state of the world economy and the conditions they are currently finding for their business. An overwhelming amount signaled that credit conditions had significantly eased in their region, enabling them access to the cash they needed to invest.
Over 60 percent of respondents said that the health of credit availability to their firm was "strong," with 14 percent declaring it to be "very strong." Just one respondent in the survey said that credit was currently weak for their business.
Additionally, this showed a tick higher from the results of the last survey from CNBC, highlighting a trend for firms gaining easier access to capital.
"Certainly right now there is a lot of liquidity in the system..the markets are quite good for creditworthy companies," Kevin Entricken, CFO at Wolters Kluwer, told CNBC Monday. The chief financial officers at companies Statoil and Eurotunnel concurred, describing liquidity as being very good and applauding central banks for taking adequate steps and responsibility after the crisis.
Eurotunnel CFO Emmanuel Moulin added that the real issue now for the European Central Bank was making sure that small and medium-sized enterprises had the same access to capital as the big businesses do.
Following the global financial crash of 2008, many countries experienced a "credit crunch" whereby banks curbed their lending and both consumers and businesses found it increasingly harder to borrow. Central banks came to the rescue in many developed nations. The U.S. Federal Reserve, the Bank of England and the Bank of Japan have undertaken bond-buying programs to help free up the flow of cash around their economies.
The hope was, and still is, this would then push the banks to start lending cash to individuals and companies and boosting the supply of money. Many analysts have been critical of this move and highlighted the lack of success in this supposed method of "trickle-down" economics. However, the CFOs in the survey have spoken in favor of the amount of capital available to them as well as the current cost of debt, which has been suppressed with these quantitative easing (QE) programs.
The Bank of England, in its first quarter credit conditions survey, stated that overall corporate credit availability had increased, making it the sixth consecutive quarter that lenders reported an increase in availability.
"Lenders cited a number of factors including market share objectives and an improvement in the economic outlook as contributing to the increase in availability," the bank said in the report.
Conditions are a little tighter in the euro zone with a slump in money supply underlining the current deflation risk. Annual growth in M3 – the general measure of cash in the economy - has barely flickered above 1 percent in recent months, during the boom times of 2007 it was closer to 12 percent.
Russia growth fears
As well as the bullishness over money supply by CNBC's survey, global chief financial officers also offered a fairly disappointing picture for growth this year in Russia and Eastern Europe. Over 60 percent see a "modest decline" for gross domestic product in the region over the next six months.
The Russian economy grew by 1.3 percent last year but managed a slim gain of 0.3 percent in February compared to the year before, with that same measure picking up to 0.9 percent in March. Tensions in the region have been fraught in following the upheaval of the Ukrainian government after bloody protests broke out in the capital Kiev.
Russia has annexed the southern region of Crimea despite sanctions being imposed on the country by the European Union and the U.S. Global stock markets have wavered with news coming from the region with pro-Russian support spilling out into fierce battles in the eastern part of the country. Despite sanctions, with many banks curbing their dealings with Russia, the survey showed that CFOs aren't concerned for their own business, saying that investment plans in general, and in the region, have not been abandoned.