By Lewis Krauskopf
March 18 U.S. chief executive officers are
somewhat more positive about the economy, including plans for
hiring and capital spending over the next six months, although
they expect only tepid growth this year, according to a
quarterly survey by the Business Roundtable released on Tuesday.
The CEOs said gross domestic product would rise by 2.4
percent in 2014, which is below-normal growth compared with past
economic recoveries, according to the survey.
"CEO expectations for overall economic growth in 2014
continue to be modest at best," Randall Stephenson, chairman of
the Business Roundtable and CEO of AT&T Inc, told
reporters on a conference call.
He noted that a full recovery would show growth of at least
"We're many years into this recovery now and still chugging
along at a 2 (to) 2-1/2 percent economic growth rate, which I
think all of us - in business, in Congress, the administration -
view as unacceptable," Stephenson said.
Of executives surveyed, 37 percent expect to increase
employment in the next six months, compared with 34 percent a
quarter ago, while fewer expected to decrease employment levels.
Forty-eight percent of executives now expect to increase
capital spending in the next six months, compared with 39
percent in the prior survey.
The greater optimism for capital expenditures was
encouraging, Stephenson noted, because "there's a very high
correlation between private sector capital investment and
sustained job growth."
Seventy-two percent of CEOs expect sales to rise in the next
six months, down from 73 percent in the prior survey. But fewer
expect sales to decline: 5 percent vs. 8 percent in the earlier
The Business Roundtable CEO Economic Outlook Index, a
composite of top executives' expectations for sales, capital
spending and employment for the next six months, rose to 92.1
from 84.5 in the fourth quarter of 2013. A reading above 50
indicates economic growth is expected.
The survey, conducted between Feb. 21 and March 7, had
responses from 122 member CEOs.
The Business Roundtable, which advocates for public policy,
has put at the top of its agenda pushing for corporate tax and
immigration reform, as well as expanded trade agreements