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Leading business executives' optimism about the current state of the global economy has tanked, and prospects that next year will be better are falling fast too, according to Deloitte's quarterly survey of more than 100 chief financial officers.

Why it matters: One of the biggest risks to the stock market and the economy itself is the fear of a recession, much more so than a recession itself, as we've written before. Executives that think economic prospects are only going to get worse can delay big projects which will further hurt growth.

  • 24% of CFOs said altering or delaying investments is the first thing they would do to prepare for a downturn, but only 8% have done so already.
  • CFOs' expectations for capital spending, fatter profits, more hiring and higher wages within the next 12 months are all below the survey's 2-year average.
Expand chart
Data: Deloitte; Chart: Chris Canipe

The big picture: The results are similar to findings from other sentiment surveys, including the Business Roundtable's quarterly CEO survey which showed plans to rein in plans for spending and hiring.

  • As for the average consumer, confidence in the state of the economy in March saw its biggest 1-month decline in over a decade, according to the closely watched Conference Board survey. Consumers' expectations for the economy in the next 6 months fell, too.

Other findings:

  • 84% of CFOs said the U.S. economy would slowdown or enter a recession by the end of next year and cited 3 factors — the trade war, the length of business and credit cycles and slowing growth in China and Europe — as the potential causes.
  • 15% said they already see signs of a U.S. downturn within their company's operations.

Go deeper

Drought, record heat wave in West tied to climate change

People on Folsom Lake in Granite Bay, California, U.S., June 16, 2021. Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The prolonged and widespread heat wave in the West, along with the region's increasingly severe drought, is a sign of how climate change has already tilted the odds in favor of such extremes, studies show.

Why it matters: The rapidly growing Southwest, in particular, is also the nation's fastest-warming region. The combination of heat and drought could lead to a repeat, or even eclipse, the severity of 2020's wildfire season in California and other states.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
2 hours ago - Energy & Environment

What to watch as infrastructure talks heat up

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

A mix of Beltway action and extreme weather events have brought the fault lines in infrastructure talks and their planetary stakes into sharper focus.

Catch up fast: Senate Democratic leaders pledged to seek big climate measures in a multitrillion-dollar, Democrats-only package that faces a very narrow political path.

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
4 hours ago - Sports

The sports stock market

Note: Michael Jordan's card is for baseball; Data: Alt; Table: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Shohei Ohtani's trading card value has risen 781% since the start of 2021, the highest year-to-date return of any athlete on Alt, a sports card exchange that aims to bring more liquidity to alternative assets.

Why it matters: The trading card market is the closest thing we have to a stock market for sports.