CFOs on both sides of the Atlantic are taking a gloomier view of the outlook for the global economy and their own companies, according to the latest quarterly survey from Financial Executives International and the Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College.
When asked to rank their level of optimism about the global economy on a scale from 0 to 100, the median response from U.S. CFOs was 44.1 in the second quarter, down from 51.9 in the first quarter. European CFOs’ optimism dropped even more, to 43.2 from 54. CFOs’ views on the global economy were the lowest since the survey began asking this question in 2010.
U.S. CFOs had a rosier view of the financial prospect of their own companies, with the median ranking at 67.8, down from 70.8 in the first quarter. European CFOs had a median reading of 54.5 on their company outlook, vs. 58.3.
Although U.S. CFOs expect cost increases, they also predict increases in revenue and net earnings in the year ahead, while European CFOs anticipate increases in costs and revenue without an increase in net earnings.
Optimism about the fate of the European Union, however, is higher in Europe than in the U.S. A third of CFOs in both regions expect the European Union to maintain its status quo over the next six months. A little more than 20% of U.S. CFOs believe the E.U. will face dissolution within a year, while 20% expect a recovery. European CFOs are slightly more upbeat, with 42% expecting consolidation in the next year and 29% expecting recovery.
This summer’s financial sector scandals have not had a grave impact on CFOs’ confidence in their banking partners: 75% of U.S. CFOs and 52% of European CFOs say the scandals have not changed their perception of their principal banking partner. But 39% of U.S. respondents reported having less confidence in the ability of regulators to protect the financial system in the future. While only 15% of European CFOs displayed confidence in risk controls and risk management processes, 86% of U.S. CFOs reported being confident about them.