CEOs

Report: Amid promises of tax cuts, deregulation and infrastructure spending, CEOs’ confidence is growing

By Tina Irgang

A new survey shows that CEOs’ projections for hiring, investments and sales growth over the next six months have jumped sharply under the Trump administration.

The Economic Outlook Survey is conducted quarterly by Business Roundtable, a membership organization of large-company CEOs. Its members include, for example, the CEOs of 3M, GE and Visa, and its current chairman is JPMorgan Chase & Co. CEO Jamie Dimon, says Bloomberg Politics. (While Business Roundtable is generally considered a conservative-leaning organization, Dimon is a Democrat, notes The Philadelphia Inquirer.)

The first-quarter 2017 survey was conducted between February 8 and March 1, and includes responses from 141 member CEOs, according to a summary of the report on Business Roundtable’s website.

It’s the first Business Roundtable survey issued since President Donald Trump’s inauguration, and it’s notable for trends in CEO confidence not seen on the survey in several years.

“The Business Roundtable CEO Economic Outlook Index — a composite of CEO projections for sales and plans for capital spending and hiring over the next six months — made its largest increase since the fourth quarter of 2009,” Business Roundtable’s summary states.

In addition, “more than nine of 10 Roundtable members said things were looking up. That’s up from about three-quarters last fall, the first time it topped 80 percent since early in Barack Obama’s last term, and the biggest three-month jump since the last recession,” says The Philadelphia Inquirer.

What is prompting CEOs’ optimism?

In an interview on the report’s results, JPMorgan Chase’s Dimon said he was seeing enthusiasm among CEOs who want to work with the federal government on tax reform and “a smarter approach to regulation,” reports CNN Money.

“The president’s priorities — tax modernization, regulatory reform and infrastructure investment — are all shared by the Business Roundtable,” said Joshua Bolten, president and CEO of Business Roundtable, as reported by Forbes.

“Specifically, 79 percent of the 141 CEOs surveyed said tax reform and regulatory overhauls are the two best ways to create business growth; 15 percent identified infrastructure investment as a good-for-business policy,” Forbes goes on to say.

Of course, not all CEOs are confident about their companies’ prospects under a Trump administration. As reported previously, leaders in the tech sector and beyond have expressed concerns that the executive order barring travel from some majority-Muslim countries could negatively affect their hiring and disrupt their operations. (A revised order issued several weeks later still sparked similar concerns, according to Inc.)

Companies in the tourism industry also are bracing for declines in revenue amid a strong dollar and fears that the executive order is deterring travelers beyond the six countries specifically named in the revised order, Reuters reports.

Those concerns notwithstanding, if the CEOs of the nation’s largest companies do in fact translate their optimism about the administration’s early days into greater hiring and additional investments, it should be good news for the nation’s economy.

Tina Irgang is SmartCEO’s managing editor. Contact her at tina@smartceo.com.