Global Growth Projections Temper CEO Q1 Economic Outlook

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U.S. CEOs continue to see continued growth in the U.S. economy but their optimism is tempered by uncertainty about growth in the global economy. The chief executives projected 2.5% growth in 2019, down from a projection of 2.7% in the previous quarter.

The Business Roundtable CEO Economic Outlook Index for the first quarter of 2019, published Wednesday morning, was down 9.2 points from 104.4 in the fourth quarter of 2018 to 95.2. The Business Roundtable includes CEOs of U.S. companies with more than 16 million employees and more than $7 trillion in annual revenues.

The first-quarter decline marks a fourth consecutive decrease since the index reached an all-time high of 118.6 in the first quarter of last year. The good news is that the first-quarter index is the ninth straight to exceed the historical average of 82.4.

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, also chair and CEO of the Business Roundtable, said:

Business leaders’ plans for capital investment and hiring remain strong, a sign of continued confidence in the American economy amid easing global growth forecasts. To maintain U.S. economic progress going forward, Congress and the Administration should focus on policies to support a thriving economy and greater opportunity for all Americans, such as expanding free and fair trade, investing in infrastructure and workforce training, enacting a national innovation agenda and pursuing comprehensive immigration reform.

Roundtable president and CEO, Joshua Bolton, added:

The economic outlook of Business Roundtable CEOs remains solid. Smart policies on tax reform and regulation have stimulated substantial hiring and business investment in the U.S. over recent months. As we encounter a potential softening of global economic conditions, it’s all the more important to advance policies that will promote American innovation and strengthen the U.S. economy for the long term.

Among the data points reported in second-quarter outlook are these:

  • 73% of CEOs expect sales to rise in the next six months, down from 80% in the prior quarter; 6% expect sales to decrease, down two percentage points.
  • 48% expect capital spending to rise, down from 53%; 7% expect capital spending to decrease, up from 5%.
  • 48% expect employment levels to rise, down from 56%; 16% expect employment levels to fall, up from 14% quarter over quarter.

The Business Roundtable Outlook is available at the organization’s website.

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