CEO Confidence Surveys 4Q 2023 – Notable Excerpts

On December 13, 2023, the Business Roundtable released its most recent CEO Economic Outlook Survey for the 4th Quarter of 2023.   Notable excerpts from this December 13, 2023 release, titled “Business Roundtable Q4 CEO Economic Outlook Index Reflects a Stable but Cooling U.S. Economy“:

The overall Index ticked up a modest two points from last quarter to 74 but remained below its historic average of 84. CEOs continue to moderate their plans for capital investment, while plans for hiring are up from last quarter and expectations for sales for the next six months increased modestly.


In their first estimate of 2024 U.S. GDP growth, CEOs projected 1.9% growth for the year.

Additionally, in a question posed every fourth quarter since 2003, CEOs were asked to identify the greatest cost pressure facing their company. Fifty-two percent of CEOs identified labor costs as the top cost pressure for the seventh consecutive year. Nineteen percent selected regulatory costs as their top cost pressure, a six-year high, and 14% of respondents identified material costs.

On October 12, 2023, The Conference Board released the Q4 2023 Measure Of CEO Confidence.   The overall measure of CEO Confidence was at 46, down from the previous reading of 48. [note:  a reading of more than 50 points reflects more positive than negative responses]

Notable excerpts from this Press Release include:

Compared to last quarter, CEOs’ view of current economic conditions was a tad less enthusiastic in the latest survey, and they carried forward a cautious outlook for the economy ahead. In Q4, 18% of CEOs reported general economic conditions to be better than they were six months ago, down from 28% in Q3. At the same time, future expectations became more pessimistic: While 19% of CEOs expect future conditions to improve, similar to last quarter, 47% expect general economic conditions to worsen over the next six months, up from 39% in Q3.

“A large majority of CEOs continue to expect a US recession ahead—but that consensus receded notably over the course of 2023,” said Roger W. Ferguson, Jr., Vice Chairman of The Business Council and Trustee of The Conference Board. “In Q4, 72% of CEOs reported that they are preparing for a US recession over the next 12-18 months, compared to 93% at the start of the year. Of those, 69% expect a brief and shallow recession, with limited global spillovers, and only 3% are preparing for a deep US recession. The share of CEOs who are not preparing for any recession in the next 12-18 months rose to 28% in Q4, up from just 6% in Q1 2023.”


Additional details can be seen in the sources mentioned above.


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 4714.31 as this post is written