Who imagined the stunning economic events that would unfold in 2008: a U.S. recession gone global; the most U.S. jobs lost in 34 years; an unprecedented $700 billion federal bailout; the big three carmakers near bankruptcy; and a financial sector that imploded. The financial shenanigans just won't quit either, as evidenced by the latest Wall Street scandal involving a respected industry leader whose hedge fund for the rich and major market players seems to be one giant $50 billion Ponzi scheme. What regulation? Meanwhile, the financial crisis has thrust CFOs into the spotlight and onto the hot seat as companies make capital preservation and liquidity management their top priorities. What better time to talk to three leading CFOs in key industries--Wal-Mart's Thomas Shoewe, Cardinal Health's Jeffrey Henderson and FM Global's Jeffrey Burchill--about their strategies to ride out these worst of times and get ready to seize opportunity once a recovery begins. Not that it will happen anytime soon, say our three top economists, Stephen Stanley of RBS Greenwich Capital Markets, M. Cary Leahey of Decision Economics and Keith Wade of Schroders. The more than 550 senior financial executives polled in T&R's Biannual Economic Survey echo that assessment, with 85 percent of those answering the Strategic Treasury Survey saying the crisis is the top reason their jobs are now viewed as more strategic, a tarnished silver lining at best. Doom and gloom are hard to escape, and like President-elect Obama, we are hoping that part of the solution to our economic woes lies in green endeavors and sustainable business models (also in this issue). No whining. There's much room for improvement in 2009. Here's to looking ahead--way ahead.
From the December-January 2009 issue of Treasury & Risk magazine