Economic Outlook Might Be Brighter Than Ever According to Executives

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With the U.S. broad markets climbing to new highs, it’s hard not to be optimistic. Even the Business Roundtable issued its highest rating in five years for its economic outlook survey. In another survey, roughly three out of four business executives have an optimistic view of the U.S. economy over the next 12 months, a consensus not seen since the Great Recession, according to the fourth-quarter Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (AICPA) Economic Outlook Survey.

The AICPA survey polls chief executive officers, chief financial officers, controllers and other certified public accountants in U.S. companies who hold executive and senior management accounting roles. While the survey was fielded with tax reform deliberations underway, it’s important to note it closed before passage of the Senate tax bill this past weekend, so survey sentiment does not reflect that development.

One of the highlights of the survey as that 74% of business executives said they were upbeat about prospects for the economy, an increase of 10 percentage points from last quarter. Their view of their own companies’ outlook over the next 12 months is brighter, too, with 70% expressing optimism, also a post-recession high.

The CPA Outlook Index rose two points in the fourth quarter to 79, moving past a post-recession high of 78 set in 2014.

Arleen R. Thomas, CPA, CGMA, managing director of Americas Market, Global Offerings & CGMA Exam, Management Accounting for the AICPA, commented:

In addition to expectations for business tax reductions, executives cited several factors for the boost in optimism, including rising consumer demand, a strengthening global economy and the perception of more pro-business policies at home. On the other side of the ledger, some respondents expressed concern about political dysfunction and fallout from potential stock market and real estate bubbles.