CFOs Cautiously Optimistic

Despite concerns about labor costs and market risks, respondents to this year's "CFO Outlook" survey have the most optimistic outlook since the start of the financial crisis.

As the global economy continues to recover, what is happening in individual businesses across the United States? Are finance executives feeling good about their organization’s prospects? What are their top concerns for 2014? Bank of America Merrill Lynch set out to answer these and related questions in its latest “CFO Outlook” survey. Now in its 16th year, the project polled 751 CFOs and other finance executives nationwide.

121813_BofA CFO Outlook_Figure 1Overall, survey respondents indicated that they are feeling pretty good about domestic economic conditions. When asked to rate the current state of the U.S. economy, from 0 to 100 with 100 meaning “extremely strong,” finance executives were more positive than they’ve been since 2008. The average rating for the current state of the economy was 53—the first time in six years that it’s been above 50. Along the same lines, nearly half of respondents believe that the economy will expand next year, while only 12 percent expect it to contract. This is a dramatic improvement when compared with the 24 percent who predicted a contraction in last year’s “CFO Outlook” report. (See Figure 1.)


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