CEO Confidence Reaches Four-Year Low: Survey

C-suite confidence is at its lowest level since May of 2003, according to a new survey by Chief Executive Magazine.

The monthly survey polled 530 CEOs from U.S. companies worth between $100 and $200 million, and Edward Kopko, CEO of Chief Executive Magazine, discussed the survey’s results on Squawk Box this morning.

"We've been continuing a free-fall drop in confidence since July, and this month was no different. We went to the lowest level we've seen since May of 2003 in terms of CEO confidence."

"One of the elements that we survey the CEOs for every month is regarding their employment attitudes, and this month, CEOs said their next-quarter hiring plans, only 16 percent said they were increasing hiring. The substantial portion of them were unchanged, but almost 40 percent of them were saying they were expecting their employment to be decreasing in the coming quarter."

"I have been saying, and they are a leading indicator for employment, probably in the next few months we're going to start to have these numbers start to show up in the employment numbers."

"Investment conditions and attitudes toward the current business environment have also turned markedly sour. We've actually seen our business conditions index drop almost 70 points, which is about a 40 percent drop in their attutudes there."

"The investment conditions are quite low, so they're not saying that they're going to be making a lot more investments from where they were six or eight months ago."

"Our survey is U.S.-based companies. We're much broader. It's monthly. We have 530 respondents this month, and...they're a mixture of large and smaller companies, $100 million-$200 million companies, and many of them are not as international as the Business Roundtable, so when you have an internationally-oriented set of companies, their attitudes may be a little bit different, and as you know, our employment engine is primarily driven by the smaller companies. It's not the large companies that are the big creators of jobs here in the United States. So we think our attitude survey of CEOs is a little bit more broad and a little bit more indicative of what might be happening in the U.S. economy."

- Edward Kopko, Chief Executive Magazine Chairman and CEO