Business Roundtable survey: CEOs' rising optimism

CEOs started the year feeling slightly more optimistic about the economy, according to a survey of more than 100 chief executives of America's biggest companies by the Business Roundtable.

Why it matters: Executives' outlook suggests the U.S. is not plunging into recession. But it does imply slow growth and wariness around hiring, sales and capital spending.

  • Hiring is strong and economic activity is still holding up. But the risks from the Fed's aggressive interest rate hikes may be only starting to become apparent.
  • CEOs were polled before the Silicon Valley Bank meltdown, which prompted extraordinary actions from U.S. regulators

What they're saying: “This quarter’s survey reflects continued caution resulting from high inflation and the policy measures the Federal Reserve is implementing to bring it under control,” Mary Barra, General Motors CEO and chair of the Business Roundtable, said in a statement.

By the numbers: The 6-point uptick in the CEO Outlook Index was the first increase since the final quarter of 2021.

  • CEOs expected the economy to grow 1.4% this year, below the long-term trend in the U.S. but not the negative number you would expect in a recession.

Yes, but: the survey suggests big businesses are moving more prudently as a slew of risks — including a potential debt ceiling battle — loom.

  • “Our members have been clear that the full faith and credit of the United States should not be put at risk and that we should take steps to address growing deficits and debt."

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