CEOs Predict 2.3 Percent GDP Growth in 2014, Well Below Economy’s Potential

Report Moderate Uptick in Sales and Hiring, Drop in Capital Investment over Next Six Months

WASHINGTON--()--Results from the Business Roundtable’s second quarter 2014 CEO Economic Outlook Survey show CEOs expect 2014 gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 2.3 percent, representing below-normal growth compared to past economic recoveries, and well below the economy’s potential. Last quarter’s estimate for 2014 GDP growth was 2.4 percent. CEOs also expect a decline in expectations for capital expenditures, and a moderate improvement in the outlook for sales and hiring over the next six months. The Business Roundtable CEO Economic Outlook Index, which is a composite of expectations for investment, sales and hiring, increased to 95.4 in the second quarter from 92.1 last quarter.

“CEO expectations for both investment and growth remain well below the potential of the U.S. economy and below what we should be experiencing at this stage of a recovery,” said Randall Stephenson, chairman of Business Roundtable and chairman and CEO of AT&T Inc. “Congress and the Administration must focus on policies that drive economic growth, including tax reform, immigration reform, trade expansion and long-term fiscal stability. The first step toward immediate growth should be passage of business tax extenders legislation that serves as a bridge to tax reform.”

The survey, which has been conducted quarterly since the third quarter of 2002, is designed to capture CEO sentiment regarding the current state and future direction of the U.S. economy. The survey results reflect the impact of negative economic growth in Q1 tied to uncertainty and lack of progress on key growth drivers such as tax extenders. As a result:

  • Only 44 percent of CEOs expect to increase their companies’ U.S. capital investment, down from 48 percent last quarter.
  • And only 43 percent expect to add U.S. employees.

In addition to expectations on hiring and investment, 73 percent of CEOs anticipate sales will increase in the next six months.

The latest survey also included a special question on short-term tax policy:

  • 77 percent of CEOs said that passage of business tax extenders legislation (e.g., R&D credit, 50-percent bonus depreciation, and active financing and look-through rules), as a bridge to tax reform, would improve the investment climate for their company, customers and suppliers.

Survey Results

While CEO expectations over the next six months increased for investment, hiring and sales, the increase in the sales expectations index was a result of decreased pessimism, rather than increased optimism. The survey’s key findings from this quarter and the first quarter of 2014 include:

CEO Survey Results & Sub-Indices   2014 Q1   2014 Q2   Quarter-Quarter Change in Sub-Index
Increase   No Change   Decrease   Sub-Index Increase   No Change   Decrease   Sub-Index  
How do you expect your company’s sales to change in the next six months? 72%   23%   5%   117.2 73%   24%   2%   121   +3.8
How do you expect your company’s U.S. capital spending to change in the next six months? 48%   44%   7%   91 44%   49%   8%   85.9   -5.1
How do you expect your company’s U.S. employment to change in the next six months? 37%   44%   19%   68.2 43%   43%   14%   79.2   +11

Second Quarter 2014 Business Roundtable CEO Economic Outlook Index

The Business Roundtable CEO Economic Outlook Index – a composite index of CEO expectations for the next six months of sales, capital spending and employment – increased in the second quarter of 2014 to 95.4 from 92.1 in the first quarter of 2014. The Index now stands above its long-term average level of 80.1.

About the Business Roundtable CEO Economic Outlook Survey

Business Roundtable’s CEO Economic Outlook Survey, conducted quarterly since the third quarter of 2002, provides a forward-looking view of the economy by Business Roundtable member CEOs. The survey is designed to capture CEO sentiment regarding the current state and future direction of the U.S. economy by asking CEOs to provide their expectations about their company’s sales, capex and employment in the following six months. The data are used to create the Business Roundtable CEO Economic Outlook Index and sub-indices for sales, capex and hiring expectations – diffusion indices that range between -50 and 150 – where readings above 50 indicate an economic expansion, and readings below 50 indicate an economic contraction. A diffusion index is defined as the percentage of respondents who report that a measure will increase minus the percentage who report that the measure will decrease.

The second quarter 2014 survey was completed between May 14 and June 4, 2014. Responses were received from 131 member CEOs, 64 percent of the total Business Roundtable membership. The percentages in some categories may not equal 100 due to rounding. Results of this and all previous surveys can be found at http://www.brt.org/resources/ceo-survey.

Business Roundtable (BRT) is an association of chief executive officers of leading U.S. companies working to promote sound public policy and a thriving U.S. economy.

BRT-member companies produce $7.4 trillion in annual revenues and employ more than 16 million people. Comprising more than a third of the total value of the U.S. stock market, these companies invest $158 billion annually in research and development – equal to 62 percent of private U.S. R&D spending. In addition, they pay more than $200 billion in dividends to shareholders and generate more than $540 billion in sales for small and medium-sized businesses annually. BRT companies give more than $9 billion a year in combined charitable contributions.

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Contacts

Business Roundtable
Amanda DeBard, 202-496-3269

The Business Roundtable CEO Economic Outlook Index increased in the second quarter of 2014 to 95.4 from 92.1 in the first quarter of 2014. (Graphic: Business Roundtable)

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Release Summary

Results from the Business Roundtable’s second quarter 2014 CEO Economic Outlook Survey show CEOs expect 2014 gross domestic product growth of 2.3 percent.

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Contacts

Business Roundtable
Amanda DeBard, 202-496-3269