In a webcast titled "Capital Efficiency in a Volatile Market: Stop Burning Capital," Deloitte asked several polling questions to identify the main working capital challenges in the companies of the webcast's more than 1,500 participants.

When asked how they expect their company's deployment of cash in the second half of 2013 to compare with the first half of the year, more said they expect cash deployment to accelerate (21.8 percent) than decelerate (15.5 percent). However, the largest proportion of respondents (32 percent) said they don't know what cash deployment will look like at the end of the year. (See Figure 1.) Not only that, but more answered "don't know" in response to this question than in response to the survey's other questions, which were oriented more to the present than to the future.

"It's a subtle difference, but this first question is asking respondents to predict the market," points out Charles Alsdorf, director of business valuation for Deloitte Financial Advisory Services. "The fact that the highest number of 'don't know' responses came on this question dovetails with other research we've been doing, which shows that finance executives are cautiously optimistic, but they feel that market uncertainty is higher than it has been in the past few years."

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