The Trump Effect: CEO Confidence Rebounds Sharply
The Conference Board Measure of CEO Confidence™, which had declined slightly in the third quarter of 2016, increased sharply in the fourth quarter. The Measure now reads 65, up from 50 in the third quarter of 2016 (a reading of more than 50 points reflects more positive than negative responses).
“CEO Confidence surged in the final quarter of 2016, reaching its highest level in nearly six years,” said Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. “CEOs were considerably more optimistic about short-term growth prospects in the U.S. than in the third quarter, and to a lesser degree about prospects in developed and emerging markets. Regarding prices in 2017, chief executives expect to hike prices by less than 1.5 percent on average.”
CEOs’ assessment of current economic conditions was considerably more optimistic, with close to 60 percent saying conditions were better compared to six months ago, up from just 17 percent last quarter. Business leaders’ appraisal of current conditions in their own industries also improved significantly, with 46 percent stating conditions in their own industries have improved versus only 21 percent in the third quarter.
CEOs’ short-term outlook for the U.S. economy also improved markedly, with approximately 67 percent expecting better economic conditions over the next six months, up from 25 percent last quarter. The outlook for their own industries was also more favorable, with 58 percent of CEOs anticipating an improvement over the next six months, compared to about 23 percent in the third quarter.
CEOs’ assessment of current conditions improved for most economies, with the United States posting the largest gain. CEOs’ assessment of conditions in India was unchanged, but remained positive. Despite improving sentiment in Europe, China, Brazil and Japan, chief executives remain moderately pessimistic.
CEOs are significantly more optimistic about short-term prospects for the United States following the presidential election. Their expectations for Brazil and Europe have turned slightly positive. Expectations for India are still positive, although less so than last quarter. Expectations for China and Japan remain neutral.
Modest Price Increases Projected for 2017
The majority of chief executives expect changes in their firms’ selling prices in 2017 — with about two-thirds of CEOs anticipating price increases of less than 4 percent, and only about 7 percent expecting increases in excess of 4 percent. On average, firms plan to hike prices by 1.3 percent. About 12 percent plan decreases and 14 percent foresee no change.