CEO Economic Outlook Survey Q4 2012 | Business Roundtable


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CEOs See Continued Uncertainty for U.S. Economy

Outlook for Sales, Hiring, Capital Spending and GDP Growth Remain Modest in Face of ‘Fiscal Cliff’

CEO Economic Outlook

Listen to a recording of BRT's call to announce the findings of this quarter's survey here. Read the call transcript here.

Washington – The results of Business Roundtable’s (BRT) fourth quarter 2012 CEO Economic Outlook Survey show CEOs’ expectations are largely unchanged, with a slight decline in expectations for sales and capital spending and a slight rise in expectations for hiring. This follows a significant drop in expectations in the third quarter of 2012.

“CEOs anticipate continued slow overall economic growth for the next six months and have slightly lower expectations for sales and capital expenditures,” said Jim McNerney, Chairman of Business Roundtable and Chairman, President and CEO of The Boeing Company. “The continued softness in quarterly sentiment reflects deep uncertainty about the future overall economic climate, realities of a slow-growing economy and frustration over Washington’s inability to resolve looming ‘fiscal cliff’ issues.”

In addition to fiscal policy issues, 35 percent of the CEOs reported that regulatory costs were of highest concern in the next six months, followed by labor and health care costs. This contrasts with the fourth quarter of 2011, when material costs were the CEOs’ top concern. The CEO survey is now in its 11th year.

Survey Results

The survey’s key findings from this quarter and the third quarter of 2012 include: 

Capital Expenditures


BRT CEOs expect 2.0 percent growth for 2013, an increase from last quarter’s estimate of 1.9 percent. CEO expectations for hiring over the next six months are roughly neutral, which represents a slight improvement from the expected decrease reported last quarter.

Fourth Quarter 2012 CEO Economic Outlook Survey Index

The Business Roundtable CEO Economic Outlook Survey Index – a composite index of CEO expectations for the next six months of sales, capital spending and employment – remained essentially unchanged at 65.6 in the fourth quarter of 2012 from 66.0 in the third quarter. While the Index remains above 50.0 – signaling continuing economic expansion – it is at its lowest level since the third quarter of 2009 and is well below its long-term average level of 79.4.

Business Roundtable’s CEO Economic Outlook Survey, conducted quarterly since the third quarter of 2002, provides a forward-looking view of the economy by BRT member CEOs.

The survey was completed between November 12 and 30, 2012. Responses were received from 143 member CEOs, 67 percent of the total BRT membership. The percentages in some categories may not equal 100 due to rounding.