Dec 5, 2022 - Economy

First look: CEO optimism fading as economy teeters

Business Roundtable CEO Economic Outlook Index
Data: Business Roundtable; Chart: Axios Visuals

The chief executives of America's biggest companies have downgraded their view of the economy — though not to the levels of gloom normally seen in recessions.

Why it matters: Economic jitters have not sent CEO confidence diving off a cliff. Their plans for hiring and capital spending are more consistent with a slowdown in growth than outright economic contraction.

By the numbers: The latest Business Roundtable CEO Economic Outlook index, first shared with Axios, declined 11 points — continuing the steady slide that's happened every single quarter this year.

  • It's the first time since 2020 that the index has fallen below its long-run average.

When 142 CEOs of major U.S. companies were surveyed in late November, they reported relatively healthy plans for sales growth, hiring and capital spending.

  • But those expectations had notably cooled from last year's nosebleed levels. 40% of CEOs expect to increase employment at their firms within the next six months. This time last year, 77% planned to do so.

What they're saying: "With continued supply chain challenges and inflation uncertainty, many CEOs remain cautious about domestic plans and expectations for the next six months," General Motors CEO Mary Barra, who chairs the Business Roundtable, said.

Look for more on what business leaders' assessment says about the economic outlook later today in Axios Macro.

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