CEO Economic Outlook Survey Q4 2017 | Business Roundtable

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Business Roundtable (BRT) is an association of chief executive officers of leading U.S. companies working to promote sound public policy and a thriving U.S. economy.

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Business Roundtable CEO Economic Outlook Index Reaches Highest Level in Nearly Six Years

Confidence Reflects Focus on Pro-Growth Economic Policies

CEO Economic Outlook

Washington — The Business Roundtable Q4 CEO Economic Outlook Index — a composite of CEO projections for sales and plans for capital spending and hiring over the next six months — increased to 96.8 for the fourth quarter of 2017, up from 94.5 in the third quarter.

The Index reached its highest level since the first quarter of 2012 (96.9). The Index has significantly exceeded its historical average of 80.3 for four quarters in a row and remains well above 50, suggesting that CEOs continue to expect the U.S. economy to expand at a healthy pace.

CEO plans for capital investment rose to their highest level since the second quarter of 2011. Expectations for sales picked up by 5.1 points. Hiring plans dipped 4.5 points from Q3, but remain near their highest level in four years.

In their first GDP estimate for 2018, CEOs project 2.5 percent GDP growth for the year.

Responding to a question asked every fourth quarter, the business leaders identified labor costs as the greatest cost pressure facing their company (31 percent). This was the first time in six years that regulatory costs (26 percent) were not the top cost pressure. 

Jamie Dimon, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Chairman of Business Roundtable said, “The U.S. economy is strong, and business leaders are increasingly confident in continued economic growth, marked especially by their plans for additional capital investment. This business confidence rests on the pro-growth economic agenda of policymakers. To continue this momentum, it is critical that we enact pro-growth tax reform that will level the playing field for U.S. business to be globally competitive. 

“Getting the right economic policies in place will provide the certainty necessary to allow our country to thrive, creating more jobs, more opportunity and wealth creation for hard-working American families.” 

 

Joshua Bolten, Business Roundtable President & CEO added, “The easing of cost pressures tied to regulation has contributed to continued confidence in the economy. More progress toward smarter regulation coupled with enactment of pro-growth tax reform this year will keep building on U.S. economic momentum.”  

Survey Results

The survey’s key findings from this quarter and the third quarter of 2017 include:

 

Capital Expenditures

Employment

Sales

Fourth Quarter 2017 Business Roundtable CEO Economic Outlook Index

The Business Roundtable CEO Economic Outlook Index — a composite index of CEO plans for the next six months of sales, capital spending and employment — increased from 94.5 in the third quarter of 2017 to 96.8 in the fourth quarter of 2017.

About the Business Roundtable CEO Economic Outlook Survey

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

The survey is designed to provide a picture of the future direction of the U.S. economy by asking CEOs to report their plans for their company’s sales, capex and employment in the next six months. The data are used to create the Business Roundtable CEO Economic Outlook Index and sub-indices for sales, capex and hiring expectations. These indices are diffusion indices that range between -50 and 150 — where readings at 50 or above indicate an economic expansion, and readings below 50 indicate an economic contraction. A diffusion index is defined as the percentage of respondents who report that a measure will increase, minus the percentage who report that the measure will decrease.

The fourth quarter 2017 survey was conducted between November 2 and November 17, 2017. Overall, 150 CEOs completed the survey. Results of this and all previous surveys are available at brt.org/resources/ceo-survey.