On September 12, 2018 the September 2018 Duke/CFO Global Business Outlook was released. It contains a variety of statistics regarding how CFOs view business and economic conditions.
In this CFO survey press release, I found the following to be the most notable excerpts – although I don’t necessarily agree with them:
The proportion of firms indicating they are having difficulty hiring and retaining qualified employees is at a two-decade high, with 53 percent of CFOs calling it a top four concern. That’s up sharply from the 41 percent who said the same thing last quarter. “The tight labor market continues to put upward pressure on wages,” said Chris Schmidt, senior editor at CFO Research. “Wage inflation is now a top five concern of U.S. CFOs.” Employees are willing to leave their jobs for greener pastures. Over the past 12 months, U.S. CFOs report they had to replace 14 percent of their workforces, compared to 13 percent turnover in 2016. Among companies that list hiring as a top concern, 56 percent have increased salaries to improve their chances of hiring and retaining workers; 31 percent have increased HR budgets to better advertise positions; 29 percent have increased vacation or flex hours; and 21 percent have improved health care benefits.
The Optimism Index about the U.S. economy declined to 70 this quarter, compared to an all-time high of 71 last quarter, on a 100-point scale. CFO optimism about their own firms’ financial prospects increased to 71.4, the highest level since 2007. Optimism fell in Africa, Europe, and Latin America and held steady in Asia. The survey’s CFO Optimism Index is an accurate predictor of future hiring and overall GDP growth.
The CFO survey contains two Optimism Index charts, with the bottom chart showing U.S. Optimism (with regard to the economy) at 70, as seen below:
It should be interesting to see how well the CFOs predict business and economic conditions going forward. I discussed past various aspects of this, and the importance of these predictions, in the July 9, 2010 post titled “The Business Environment”.
(past posts on CEO and CFO surveys can be found under the “CFO and CEO Confidence” tag)
I post various economic forecasts because I believe they should be carefully monitored. However, as those familiar with this site are aware, I do not necessarily agree with many of the consensus estimates and much of the commentary in these forecast surveys.
The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation
SPX at 2893.98 as this post is written