From the September 2011 issue of Treasury & Risk magazine

Fear Itself

CFOs once again spy rough terrain ahead.

It doesn’t quite feel like the economy fell off the cliff again—more like it slipped into a big hole.

Bellwether CFOs once again spy rough terrain ahead, according to the latest CFO Outlook Survey from Financial Executives International and Baruch College’s Zicklin School of Business, released in mid-August. More than half (55%) of the 228 U.S. and European CFOs polled now project that the U.S. economic recovery will begin in the second half of 2012 or later. Slightly positive: 97% say the price of oil will stay below $140 a barrel for the next six months, as compared to 70% who said it would go higher in the last quarterly survey.

Responding to the increase in cyber attacks on multinationals, 61% of U.S. CFOs, and 55% of Europeans, are allocating more funds to data security or plan to. Unemployment rates are expected to remain high, but 57% of U.S. CFOs say they do plan to hire in the next six months, while 52% of the European CFOs say they don’t.

Although CFOs see increases in net earnings, they fear inflation and the uncertainty generated by the decline of confidence in the U.S. economy. So do the senior executives responding to Treasury & Risk’s Cash Management Survey.

Still, the cloud over treasury technology promises good news for realizing operational efficiencies, writes senior contributing Richard Gamble, while international contributing editor Rebecca Brace reports on SWIFT’s rollout of a central utility to keep standards uniform and push eBAM along for corporate clients.

Meanwhile, Starbucks’ Treasurer Richard Lautch has faced many an uphill challenge and calls his 12 years at the coffee company “an amazing ride,” writes senior contributing editor Russ Banham. Fearless is a good word to keep in mind.

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