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CFOs Aren’t so Sure About the Strength of the Economy

Any CEOs hopeful that Donald Trump’s election will herald a golden age of strong economic growth may want to have a chat with their CFO.

It appears that corporate America’s finance whizzes aren’t getting too excited about some of the president-elect’s pro-growth pledges, which have sent U.S. stocks to record highs.

A number of CFOs from large American companies recently gathered in New York at a conference hosted by professional services firm Deloitte. A survey of the 105 attendees found 71% expect slow economic growth over the next four years, while only 11% expected moderate-to-strong growth. The remaining 18% expect either no growth or a slight recession.

To be sure, the question only related to global growth and wasn’t country specific.

“CFOs…appear to be taking a wait-and-see approach to global economic growth, trade and the implications of expected tax policy for their companies.

“After a tumultuous election season, CFOs…appear to be taking a wait-and-see approach to global economic growth, trade and the implications of expected tax policy for their companies,” Deloitte managing partner Sanford Cockrell said.

There are fears Trump could trigger a trade war with China and Mexico with his threats to raise import tariffs and re-tool trade deals. CFOs, however, don’t appear too concerned just yet, with 43% expecting no significant change in global trade and 31% expecting “somewhat less” trade. Only 2% expect “substantially less” trade.

Most were in agreement, however, that Trump’s desire to slash the corporate tax rate would be good for their businesses, though not all agreed that it would be good for the country as a whole.

Separate polls have shown CEOs, while perhaps a little more confident than their CFO peers, remain cautious about the future.

Business Roundtable’s fourth-quarter economic outlook index jumped to 74.2 points, up from 69.6 in the third quarter. The index, though remains below its historical average of 79.6. Similarly, Chief Executive’s most recent CEO Confidence Index jumped by 10.8% to a 6.54 mark out of 10 immediately after Trump’s victory.

About Ross Kelly

Ross Kelly
Ross Kelly is a London-based business journalist. He has been a staff correspondent or editor at The Wall Street Journal, Yahoo Finance and the Australian Associated Press.