The CFO Survey Fourth Quarter 2020 – Notable Excerpts

On December 22, 2020 the latest CFO Survey (formerly called the “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 survey was fielded from November 30 to December 11, 2020. In terms of the outlook for their own firms, CFOs rated the average optimism at 71 on a scale of 0 to 100 — slightly above the third-quarter reading of 70.4. When asked to rate their optimism about the overall U.S. economy, the average rating was 61.6, also above the third-quarter reading.

Respondents expressed considerable uncertainty about revenue expectations, however. When asked for the highest and lowest possible percentage changes in revenue for 2021, the average respondent’s forecast ranged from -1.6 percent to 13.7 percent. Also, the CFOs who are most uncertain about 2021 revenues are also least optimistic about the economy, and, particularly, the financial prospects of their own firms. This indicates that the still-uncertain environment is affecting financial decisions.

This CFO Survey contains an Optimism Index chart, with the blue line showing U.S. Optimism (with regard to the economy) at 61.6, as seen below:

The CFO Survey - Optimism Indexes

[Note: The dashed vertical line denotes a moderate change in the question wording and presentation. Please see The CFO Survey Methodology for further information.]

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 3687.26 as this post is written