From the July/August 2011 issue of Treasury & Risk magazine

The Cruelest Month

Optimism fades among North American CFOs.

Optimism seems tossed to the wind as the doldrums of August set in. Wariness was already in the air among CFOs in North America at the end of the second quarter, according to Deloitte’s CFO Signals survey, released in mid-July. CFOs reported a less positive outlook than they have had in the last four quarters. They are more worried about the level and quality of their capital investments than they were three years ago, and most concerned about risks related to their own ability to execute, the survey reveals. CFOs’ top stress inducers include major change initiatives, strategic ambiguity, changing regulatory requirements and pressures from poor company performance. Canadian CFOs were more optimistic than their U.S. counterparts.

Also on balance less gloomy are the three economists—MFS Investment Management’s James Swanson, BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research’s Ethan Harris and Decision Economics’ M. Cary Leahey—providing Treasury & Risk with their mid-year economic outlooks. Despite the trepidation CFOs expressed in the Deloitte survey, capital expenditures are inching up, so expect some growth in jobs, says Swanson. Harris echoes that but adds the economy is still subject to shocks, while Leahey reminds us the housing market isn’t there yet.

Meanwhile, companies remain committed to their environmental efforts, as T&R’s second annual Going Green Survey, sponsored again by J.P. Morgan, shows. Five companies in particular are blazing greener frontiers toward a sustainable future, writes contributing editor Anne Fields. Here’s looking forward to a better fall. 

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