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CEO Economic Survey Round-up: 'An Unfortunate New Normal'

Sep 12, 2016

Business Roundtable released its third quarter 2016 CEO Economic Outlook Survey today, and the results show a continuation of an economy that's failing to live up to its potential. CEOs report lower expectations for sales, roughly unchanged plans for hiring and nearly flat plans for capital spending over the next six months. GDP growth for 2016 was projected at just 2.2 percent.

As BRT Chairman Doug Oberhelman, Chairman and CEO of Caterpillar Inc., put it in a briefing with reporters, the results reflect an "unfortunate new normal — where the U.S. economy is pretty much stuck in neutral rather than moving forward."

Citing the survery results, BRT President John Engler called on candidates and elected officials to make the economy the priority in campaigns and national policy debates. Writing at, he said:

What's remarkable is that Washington has let this lackluster economy lag along without acting on any meaningful, long-term growth agenda. Sadly, the presidential candidates have also failed to produce cohesive plans to foster the more robust economic growth that helps everyone pay their bills, put their kids through school, and builds strong communities.

The three presidential debates set to begin in late September should make economic growth their number one issue, he wrote.

Engler also discussed the impact of regulations on investment and growth on CNBC's Power Lunch. (See video here.)

More coverage of CEO Economic Outlook Survey:

Wall Street Journal, "Business Roundtable CEOs See Election as Latest Impediment to Stronger Growth":

The Business Roundtable’s quarterly survey of CEOs, released Monday, shows the economic outlook among leaders of America’s largest businesses is little changed from a year ago. The coming election is one reason businesses are reluctant to increase capital investment or hire at a stronger pace, said Doug Oberhelman, CEO of Caterpillar Inc. and the group’s chairman.
“At this time of every election cycle, especially after a two-term president, there is a degree of uncertainty,” he said. “We don’t have any direct way of knowing, whether it’s related to one candidate or another.”
And the group places much of the blame for slow growth on Washington.
"The continued lack of action on an aggressive pro-growth policy agenda that includes tax reform, trade expansion and a smarter approach to federal regulation contributes to an economy that continues to perform below its potential," said Caterpillar CEO Doug Oberhelman, the group's chairman, in a statement.
U.S. corporate chiefs continue to be a gloomy group when it comes to the U.S. economy and that means they won’t be doing a whole lot of hiring or capital spending in the coming months. Unless of course they can get more cooperation from Washington, such as tax reform and a trade deal. ...
“We continue to push for pro-growth policies, like TPP [Trans Pacific Partnership],” said Caterpillar (CAT) Chairman and CEO Doug Oberhelman, who is also the Chairman of the Business Roundtable, during a conference call with reporters.  The BRT, a longtime supporter of TPP, has been lobbying in Washington and in local communities, in efforts to seal a trade deal this year which would enable American companies to sell their goods abroad by eliminating certain tariffs and taxes. “We will not give up on this,” he added noting President Obama’s support of the deal
UPDATE (6:45 p.m.):
UPDATE (8:10 a.m. Tuesday):
UPDATE (10 a.m. Wednesday)