CFOs predict US economy to improve during first half of 2015

USAFlagNearly half of CFOs expect the US economy to improve during the next six months and only 9% expect it to worsen, according to the Grant Thornton LLP 2014 Fall CFO Survey. The biannual survey reflects the insights of more than 1,000 CFOs and other senior financial executives across the US.

The survey’s findings indicate that economic optimism has remained stable during the past year despite increasing global uncertainty. In spring 2014, 51% of respondents expected the economy to improve during the next six months, compared to 40% in fall 2013 and 45% in the firm’s spring 2013 survey.

The most common growth strategies for businesses in the upcoming year include pursuing organic growth in existing markets (87%) and introducing new products or services (72%). In addition, more than one-third (37%) of companies are considering a merger or acquisition in the next 12 months. For companies with more than $5 billion (€4.2 billion) in annual revenue, that number is even higher at 60%.

“While it’s encouraging that CFOs aren’t expecting contraction, they’re not predicting significant growth either,” said Stephen Chipman, Chief Executive Officer of Grant Thornton. “It’s vital that our country’s political leaders focus now on resolving this uncertainty by advancing comprehensive tax and entitlement reforms to spur economic growth.”

The notion that US economic optimism remains stable amidst increasing global uncertainty correlates with other recent research from Grant Thornton. The Grant Thornton International Business Report found that optimism for the nation’s economic outlook among US business leaders remained strong at a net balance of 69% in third quarter 2014 while Eurozone optimism dropped to a net balance of 5%, down 30 percentage points from the previous quarter. In particular, German optimism plummeted 43 percentage points to 36%.

“The economic environment in Germany has very significant implications for the US economy and businesses,” added Mr. Chipman. “We have yet to realise the domestic repercussions of the weakening Eurozone and will be watching the situation closely in the coming months.”