Chief Executives See Economic Signs of Hope: Survey

Business Council members are seeing signs of a possible bottoming in both the U.S. and global recessions, according to the latest Business Council CEO Survey.

The survey of chief executives found that current conditions within respondents’ own industries have become less strained since January, as have conditions in most parts of the world. While the survey responses do not suggest that business activity is recovering, it is clear that the pace of decline, so severe in the previous survey conducted three months earlier, has moderated significantly.

Jamie Dimon
CNBC.com
Jamie Dimon

"There remains much to be concerned about," Business Council Vice Chairman Jamie Dimon said in a written message. "In the opinion of Business Council members, Europe and Asia are lagging behind the United States and China when it comes to signs of recovery. And the U.S. recession
will likely be with us into 2010, along with uncomfortable unemployment rates. On the horizon are concerns that an inflationary environment awaits at a time when individual companies are seeing their pricing power decline."

Business Council members also are noticeably more encouraged about business conditions in the next six months. Around one-third see conditions improving moderately in the United States and China, while less than 17 percent see conditions worsening. Interesting to note, Asia and (especially) Europe lag. The results for the global economy are more evenly split between those who think conditions will improve (25 percent) and those who believe that they will deteriorate (22 percent).

When asked about the importance of a broad range of public policy issues, not surprisingly, Business Council members see economic issues as the most critical.

About 85 percent of the responses rank restoring business confidence and restoring the U.S. economy to balanced growth as “very important” or “most important” issues. Almost 54 percent say that restoring business confidence is a “most important” challenge. Tax policy and trade are ranked as “very important” or “most important” by 83 percent and 75 percent of respondents, respectively.