While good vibrations are in the air over the economy, according to a couple of recent surveys of business executives, the recovery may be a little late in arriving.

CFOs' optimism about the economy jumped to 54.2 in the third quarter, from 41.9 in the second quarter, according to the latest survey by Financial Executives International (FEI) and Baruch College. That's the highest reading on the optimism index since the first quarter of 2008. The finance chiefs were even more upbeat about their own companies' prospects; that index soared to 64.1 from the second quarter's 51.44, which was an all-time low.

"Their overall optimism about the economy and optimism about their own company's prospects improved very sharply from the prior quarter and more importantly, is back to levels we saw a year ago," says John Elliott, dean of Baruch's Zicklin School of Business. But Elliott notes that at the same time, CFOs cited a later starting date for the economic recovery than they had previously.

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Susan Kelly

Susan Kelly is a business journalist who has written for Treasury & Risk, FierceCFO, Global Finance, Financial Week, Bridge News and The Bond Buyer.