Confidence among US chief executives drops in Q3 amid concerns that Washington's political dysfunction will hurt economy; Young Presidents' Organization's sentiment index falls to 60.5 from 62 in Q2
November 5, 2013
– The YPO Global Pulse Confidence Index for the United States fell 1.5 points in the third quarter to 60.5 in the latest poll of U.S. CEOs, erasing all the gains it made in the previous quarter. For the past 15 months, business confidence in the United States has been stuck in a tight 3-point range.
“In the July survey, CEOs appeared to be reassured by the improved housing market, positive monthly employment figures and a rising stock market,” said Alan Zafran, managing director of California-based investment adviser Luminous Capital, a division of First Republic Investment Management, and a member of YPO’s Global One Chapter. “Now that optimism has been tempered as YPO executives may be seeing evidence of the economic fallout from the deep divisions in Washington, which they know are likely to resurface in January.”
Globally, overall confidence levels across different regions continued to converge, with less than a point now separating Asia and the EU, compared with a 12.8-point difference six months ago. Confidence in Latin America has declined steadily for 18 months and is now the lowest in the world for the second consecutive quarter.
Key findings in the United States
CEOs report weaker conditions and gloomier outlook, except in construction. Survey respondents overall reported weaker business conditions compared with six months earlier. The percentage who said conditions had gotten better dropped to 38%, down from 49% in the July survey. The view looking ahead six months also deteriorated, with 42% expecting overall conditions to improve, a sharp decline from 51% three months earlier. An exception was the construction sector, where CEOs remained upbeat.
Sales expectations slip; small companies most optimistic. The YPO Sales Confidence Index for the United States fell to 65.8 from 66.7 in the third quarter. While the decline was slight and the reading is still quite positive, this is the lowest sales confidence level in two years. Small companies remained the most optimistic, with two-thirds expecting higher sales revenues this time next year.
Outlook for hiring remains cautious. The YPO Employment Confidence Index for the United States declined less than a point to 58.9 in the latest survey. Construction companies were the most likely to be hiring, with about half saying they expected to add employees. That was much higher than the 35% of production company CEOs who planned to add workers.
Stephen Slifer, YPO Global Pulse economic adviser and chief economist at NumberNomics, said, “Many economists continue to anticipate somewhat more rapid expansion in the U.S. economy for 2014, with a consensus forecast for GDP growth of about 2.5%, almost double the 2013 pace. That seems to be at odds with the YPO leaders in this latest survey, who may see unresolved political issues and continued economic uncertainty offsetting the positive factors.”
YPO Global Pulse Confidence Index
The quarterly electronic survey, conducted in the first two weeks of October 2013, gathered answers from 2,113 chief executive officers across the globe, including 745 in the United States. Visit www.ypo.org/globalpulse for more information about the survey methodology and results from around the world.
YPO (Young Presidents’ Organization) is a not-for-profit, global network of young chief executives connected around the shared mission of becoming Better Leaders Through Education and Idea ExchangeTM. Founded in 1950, YPO today provides 20,000 peers and their families in more than 120 countries with access to unique experiences, world-class resources, alliances with top learning institutions, and specialized networks that help them enhance their business, community and personal leadership. Altogether, YPO member-run companies employ more than 15 million people around the world and generate US$6 trillion in annual revenues. For more information, visit www.ypo.org. Also see us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.