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Most CEOs are bracing for a recession


The mood in the C-Suite is darkening.
CEO confidence has tumbled to the weakest level since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, The Conference Board said Wednesday. For the first time during the economic expansion, CEO confidence is now in negative territory. Worse, business leaders are bracing for a potential downturn caused by the Federal Reserve’s quest to tame inflation. A staggering 68% of CEOs surveyed by The Conference Board expect the Fed’s war on inflation will eventually trigger a recession. The survey, fielded between April 25 and May 9, measured responses from 133 CEOs of mostly public companies. The good news is that just 11% of CEOs anticipate a so-called hard landing, marked by a deep recession. The rest expect a „very short, mild“ recession. Importantly, business leaders are not necessarily preparing for an imminent recession. The survey did not specify when the downturn would begin, merely describing it as „over the next few years.“
Inflation triggers recession fears
Still, the pessimism among CEOs is striking, especially given that the economic recovery is barely two years old and enjoyed blockbuster growth in 2021.
„Businesses are being challenged on so many fronts right now and CEOs have elevated expectations of a recession“, Dana Peterson, The Conference Board’s chief economist, told CNN. That’s despite the fact that by many measures, the US economy remains strong. Retail sales are growing at a healthy clip, the jobs market has nearly returned to pre-Covid levels of employment and businesses are spending aggressively. Yet the economic environment has gotten tougher to navigate, with worker shortages, price spikes and the war in Ukraine creating challenges.

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