U.S. CEO Confidence Dips in Latest YPO Survey but Remains Strong

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CEOs in the United States are more confident about the immediate economic outlook than business leaders in any other region of the world, according to the latest YPO Global Pulse survey.

Global vs. U.S. confidence in second quarter 2015

U.S. CEOs have shrugged off foreign concerns and are focused on positive domestic factors supporting a continuing economic rebound.

CEOs in the United States are more confident about the immediate economic outlook than business leaders in any other region of the world. Although the YPO Global Pulse Confidence Index for the United States declined 0.5 point, from 63.3 to 62.8, in the second quarter of 2015, U.S. CEOs remain positive and have overtaken their Asian counterparts as the most optimistic in the world.

“CEO confidence has stayed in a relatively narrow band, at a relatively high level, since 2013,” said Alan Zafran, senior managing director and portfolio manager of First Republic Investment Management and a member of YPO’s Global One Chapter. “One might have expected a bigger decline given the contentious Greek bailout negotiations and the near crash of the China stock market that were playing out as the survey was being conducted. Instead, CEOs shrugged off those concerns and focused on positive domestic factors supporting a continuing economic rebound.”

The YPO Global Pulse Confidence Index declined 0.6 point, from 61.5 to 60.9, in the second quarter. This was the fourth consecutive drop in global confidence from a near record high of 64.0 in July 2014, but each of the quarterly declines have been modest. Across the globe, confidence declined 1.6 points in Asia to 62.0 and 0.9 point in the European Union to 61.6. Confidence in Australasia rose 1.0 point to 61.4, and in Canada, it increased 2.1 points to 60.0. Latin America recorded its third consecutive drop in confidence, falling 2.3 points to 50.1, by far the lowest level among the nine regions.

Key findings in the United States
CEOs see economic rebound continuing. Asked to look six months ahead, almost half (47%) of respondents said they expected overall business and economic conditions affecting their company to be better compared with today, while 41% expected conditions to remain about the same. That is a strong positive sentiment, although it is marginally down from the prior quarter’s survey following the difficult winter, when 50% expected better conditions.

Production companies surprise as most optimistic. As has generally been the case in recent surveys, CEOs of production companies were less positive than their peers in the services and construction sectors about current business and economic conditions compared to six months earlier. Just 38% said conditions had improved over this period, compared with 45% of CEOs in services companies and 48% of CEOs in construction companies.

However, in a turnaround from the longstanding trend, when it came to looking ahead at likely business and economic conditions over the next six months, CEOs within production were actually more optimistic than their counterparts in other sectors. Over half (51%) expected the economic environment to improve over the next six months, compared with 46% of CEOs within the services sector and 47% of CEOs in construction.

Stephen Slifer, YPO Global Pulse economic adviser and chief economist at NumberNomics, said, “While U.S. GDP slipped in the first quarter, the results of the latest YPO Global Pulse Confidence Index for the United States suggest that CEOs saw rebounding growth in the second quarter and expect that momentum to continue through the balance of the year. Their view is supported by continued low oil prices, strong U.S. employment numbers and declining concern about the impact of the Fed’s eventual interest rate hike.”

YPO Global Pulse Confidence Index
The quarterly electronic survey, conducted in the first two weeks of July 2015, gathered answers from 2,127 chief executive officers across the globe, including 886 in the United States. Visit http://www.ypo.org/globalpulse for more information about the survey methodology and results from around the world.

About YPO
YPO (Young Presidents’ Organization) is a not-for-profit, global network of young chief executives connected through the shared mission of becoming Better Leaders Through Education and Idea ExchangeTM. Founded in 1950, YPO today provides 23,000 peers and their families in 130 countries with access to unique experiences, extraordinary educational resources, access to alliances with leading institutions, and participation in specialized networks to support their business, community and personal leadership. Altogether, YPO member-run companies employ more than 15 million people around the world and generate US$6 trillion in annual revenues. For more information, visit http://www.ypo.org.

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Linda Fisk
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