Are chief executives too negative on the economy right now? A new survey from The Conference Board and PricewaterhouseCoopers is out on Wednesday called the Measure of CEO Confidence, and the reading declined again in the third quarter of 2014 — down to 59 from 62 in the second quarter.
For a reference, a reading of more than 50 points reflects more positive than negative responses. Also, this survey’s outlook was from results fielded from mid-August to mid-September.
While the measure itself was a decline, it was still positive. Also, the survey showed that CEOs are currently assessing current economic conditions more positively. Approximately 52% of CEOs claimed that conditions are better than six months ago. This is up from 46% in the second quarter of 2014.
Unfortunately, the CEO appraisal of conditions in their own industries declined. Only 41% of CEOs said that conditions in their own industries have improved, down from 48% last quarter.
CEO expectations regarding the short-term outlook were less optimistic. Just over 44% of CEOs expect that economic conditions will improve over the next six months. That reading was 53% in the second quarter. However, nearly 51% of CEOs expect conditions to remain the same.
The Conference Board said:
While CEOs say economic conditions have improved from the start of the year, their expectations for growth in the short-term have softened. Overall, CEOs remain optimistic about growth prospects in the U.S. and India, but sentiment for Europe has declined considerably. Expectations for China and Japan have moderated, and CEOs remained negative about Brazil’s near-term prospects. Less than a quarter of chief executives report increasing their companies’ capital spending plans since January, while less than 20 percent have scaled back spending.
This is not one of those reports that creates serious moves in the financial markets. Still, if CEOs are less confident in their views, then how much can you expect them to press for massive expansion and massive hiring ahead?