Home » CEO Confidence Index » November 2016: CEO Confidence in Future Business Conditions Spikes 11% Post-Election

November 2016: CEO Confidence in Future Business Conditions Spikes 11% Post-Election

CEOs want President Trump, new Congress to focus on economy/jobs

CEOs apparently have a good deal of faith in President-elect Trump’s ability to improve the business environment. Business leaders responding to Chief Executive’s monthly CEO Confidence Index, which was distributed the day after the election, gave a much higher overall rating for how they feel business conditions will be 12 months from now this month than the month before.

On a 1 to 10 scale, with 9-10 being excellent, and 1-2 being poor, CEOs gave a combined rating of 6.54. That’s a 10.8% jump over the 5.9 rating given in October, and it’s the highest rating given in more than a year.

chart-1CEOs’ Priorities
In addition to asking CEOs about their confidence in business conditions, we asked them to take a post-election look at what they feel are the top priorities the federal government should be focusing on.

Without question, the economy/jobs was the first and foremost priority among responding CEOs, when considered as a group. More than one-third of all respondents (36%) put this first, and another 21% listed it as their second priority. Underscoring its importance to them was the fact that the number of CEOs listing economy/jobs at the top of their list was more than double that of the next two categories: defense/national security and business taxes.


However, when we break out responses by company size, a somewhat different story emerges. Large companies ($1B+ revenue), for instance, which are more likely to have a global footprint, emphasized defense/national security, placing that first (27% of large-company respondents), followed closely by health care reform and reducing the federal deficit/budget (18% of respondents each). Business taxes came in fourth, way back at 9%.

Midsized firms ($10M-$999.9M revenue), on the other hand, said that the economy/jobs was most important (39%), with business taxes a distant second (17%) and defense/national security third (13%).

Small businesses had the same top three concerns as those in the mid-market, but in a different order. Thirty-seven percent put the economy/jobs first, with defense/national security a distant second (16% of respondents), followed by business taxes (10%).

Priorities by Company Size 1st 2nd 3rd
Large companies ($1B+) Defense/ Nat’l Security Healthcare Reform Reducing Deficit/ Budget
Midsized firms
Economy /Jobs Business Taxes Defense/ Nat’l Security
Small businesses (<$10M) Economy/Jobs Defense/ Nat’l Security Business Taxes

In discussing their priorities—and their growing confidence—CEOs were, not surprisingly, outspoken. John Williams, CEO of Jamison Door Company, suggested that the new president must “reduce oppressive regulations by all government agencies and restore integrity in the government.” Agreeing with Williams, another CEO added, “The reduction of the corporate tax rate and the repeal of Obamacare are significant parts to the possibility of overcoming the stagnant Obama economy.”

However, there were opinions on both sides of the line. One dissenting CEO felt that, “with the election of Mr. Trump, the country is faced with the potential for a horrendous four years. He knows very little about how to govern, does not have specific details for anything he has promised and probably cannot deliver, and is too temperamental to govern safely and sanely.” Another added, “This was a giant blow to our country, our economy and our world. I’m very pessimistic about the coming two to four years,” zeroing in on what he saw as one specific remedy: “We need to attract and retain the creative class—which means evaluating people by their ability, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity or sexual preference.”

About Lynn Russo Whylly

Lynn Russo Whylly