The Business Roundtable CEO Economic Outlook Index is based on a survey — conducted quarterly since the fourth quarter of 2002 — of our member CEOs’ plans for hiring and capital spending, and their expectations for sales, over the next six months. Taking these factors together, the survey signals the direction of the U.S. economy.

Business Roundtable Releases First Quarter 2008 CEO Economic Outlook Survey

International markets provide cushion to U.S. economic downturn for many U.S. companies

Washington, D.C. – The leaders of America’s top companies see flat expectations for sales, capital expenditures and employment over the next six months, with strong demand from overseas markets providing some relief from the U.S. downturn, according to Business Roundtable’s first quarter 2008 CEO Economic Outlook Survey, released today.

The Business Roundtable CEO Economic Outlook Index — which reflects sales, capital expenditures, and employment figures for the next six months — was unchanged in the first quarter of 2008, remaining at 79.5, the same level as the fourth quarter of 2007. Business Roundtable is an association of chief executive officers of leading corporations, representing a combined workforce of nearly 10 million employees and $4.5 trillion in annual revenues.

"Despite the current downturn in the U.S., this quarter’s results suggest that member CEOs have a steady outlook for their businesses over the next six months, with expectations for sales, capital expenditures and employment all remaining virtually unchanged,‖ said Harold McGraw III, chairman of Business Roundtable and chairman, president and CEO of The McGraw-Hill Companies." The CEOs surveyed preside over our country’s largest companies, all of which are actively engaged in the international economy. Today, more than ever, these companies’ outlooks are bolstered by the strong demand for U.S. goods and services from around the world. Additionally, the Fed’s recent actions to inject more liquidity into the system are expected to have a positive impact in the months ahead.‖

The survey’s key findings for the next six months include:

CEO Economic Outlook Index for First Quarter

On overall U.S. economic growth, member CEOs estimate that GDP growth will be 1.5 percent; down from the 2.1 percent GDP growth assumed last quarter. The CEO Economic Outlook Index combines the responses on projected sales, capital spending and employment into an overall index, which shows how the CEOs believe the U.S. economy will perform in the six months ahead. This is a diffusion index centered on 50, meaning anything above 50 is expansion and anything below 50 is contraction.

The Roundtable’s CEO Economic Outlook Survey, conducted quarterly since the fourth quarter of 2002, provides a forward-looking view of the economic assumptions and outlooks of Roundtable member CEOs.

The survey was completed between March 10th and March 27th by 100 of the Roundtable’s 160 member CEOs. The percentages in some categories may not add up to 100 due to rounding.

Past Surveys