A poll of small to mid-sized company CEOs by consulting firm Vistage Internationalas 2012 drew to close found a majority shared a very unsurprising view of the economic situation ahead: namely, growth is going to be slow and that slowness is in many ways being generated almost completely by the political wrangling in Washington D.C.
Vistage said its CEO Confidence Index dropped to 87.0 in the 4th quarter of 2012, down from 89.0 in the 3rd quarter and lower than the 98.8 index posted in 4th quarter of 2011. The firm’s survey – conducted between December 10 and December 19 last year of some 1,601 chief executives across the U.S. – also found that CEOs anticipated overall economic conditions would remain subdued in the first half of 2013.
Economic and political uncertainty was voiced by nearly half of all CEOs when asked to identify the most significant business issue they are now facing, with at least one-in-four firms reported that concerns about the fiscal cliff and Washington's continued gridlock had already caused them to reduce their investments and number of new hires, Vistage’s polling discerned.
"The inability of Washington's political leaders to work together only fuels continued uncertainty,” noted Vistage CEO Rafael Pastor (at right). “Yet again, small business leaders are left to wonder if they'll receive any longer-term certainty from the President and the Congress about the key factors that help drive increased consumer spending, investment, productivity, and job growth."
Despite the avoidance of the fiscal cliff, CEOs polled by Vistage continue to foresee a slow pace of growth in 2013 because of the ongoing uncertainty about the impact on our economy of raised taxes on higher-income earners and of expected continued regulatory burdens, as well as the still-looming concerns about the federal deficit and debt ratings.
None of this should come as a shock to truckers, of course. The wonder is that many in business community are attempting to be optimistic about the situation, as I noted in an earlier post. Also, too, many analysts think such sluggish conditions may actually favor trucking in many respects.
Jumping back to the Vistage survey, the firm analyzed its findings to highlight four key business trends that will take shape in the early part of 2013:
The above details are certainly not what anyone in the freight business really wants to hear right about now; then again, knowing the road will be bumpy before you reach it often helps one mitigate negative impacts. That’s the hope, at least.