Feb 7 Chief financial officers rate the U.S.
economy slightly better than a year ago, but only two out of
five expect economic growth in 2013, according to a new survey.
The more than 600 U.S. executives interviewed gave the
American economy a rating of 49 out of 100, up from 44 a year
earlier, according to the 15th annual Bank of America Merrill
Lynch CFO outlook survey. They rated the global economy
at 45, up from 43.
The survey took place from mid-November to mid-January at a
time of uncertainty over tax increases and spending cuts in the
United States, likely coloring the results, said Alastair
Borthwick, head of global commercial banking at Bank of America.
The 49 score for the U.S. economy was far below the all-time
high of 67 in 2007 but still the highest score since 2008,
Borthwick said. "There was an element last year of healing and
things getting better," he said.
On the jobs front, only 8 percent of CFOs expect their
companies to lay off workers in 2013, while 45 percent said they
planned to hire employees. That echoed results in last year's
As for their banking needs, only 17 percent predicted their
companies would increase borrowing in 2013, down from 28 percent
a year ago. But 22 percent said they could pursue a merger or
acquisition, up from 18 percent a year ago.
Borthwick was Bank of America's co-head of global capital
markets before recently replacing Laura Whitley as head of
commercial banking, which works with companies with annual
revenue of between $50 million and $2 billion.
This year, the bank is looking to increase its total lending
by offering larger loans to existing clients and by hiring more
bankers in a bid to gain new clients, Borthwick said. The unit
is also heeding Chief Executive Brian Moynihan's push to make
the bank more customer-focused, he said.
"We talk about humanizing our interactions with clients,
more face to face, more client calls, less emails," Borthwick