Last week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rallied to within 170 points of its all-time high—refuting September’s reputation as the stock market’s worst month. At the same time, CFO economic optimism is at an all-time low, according to the most recent “CFO Outlook” survey by Duke University and CFO Magazine. The survey, which reached nearly 1,000 international CFOs (approximately half from the U.S., the remainder from Europe and Asia), points to weak consumer demand, rising labor costs and high fuel costs as the main culprits behind the dour financial forecast. As a result, CFOs are cutting their capital spending plans and earnings projections; their confidence in the Federal Reserve is also falling, as nearly half (45.8%) of respondents are skeptical that tightening will reduce the rate of inflation.
“CFOs are feeling so negatively about the U.S. Economy that one-third predicts we will be in a recession in one year,” says John Graham, a finance professor at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business and director of the survey. Detailed results, including tabular summaries, are available at www.cfosurvey.org.
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