Call them contrarian. Now that the high-flying, roller-coaster economy has come to a screeching halt, CFOs, it seems, are a bit more comfortable with domestic and global prospects. In fact, 31 percent of U.S. CFOs feel confident about the global economy over the next year, up from last quarter’s lowly 10 percent, according to CFO’s quarterly Global Confidence Survey, which polls financial executives in the United States, Europe, and Asia about regional and global economic issues.

Overall, 37 percent of the financial chiefs polled in the three regions reveal that they are either very optimistic or confident about the global economy during the next year. Only 23 percent felt that way last quarter. And while it’s true that 38 percent of the U.S. executives remain concerned about the short-term domestic outlook, that’s still a significant drop from last quarter’s 50 percent.

Still, U.S. CFOs are guarding their enthusiasm about the American economy. Thirty-one percent report being confident, a 2 percentage point increase over last quarter, but another 31 percent claim to be neutral. European CFOs feel better about their corner of the world: 57 percent say they are very optimistic or confident about the regional economy, a slight increase from their 55 percent vote of confidence three months ago.

Asian CFOs are a different story. Seventy-eight percent are either very pessimistic or concerned about the Asian economy over the next year, a 24 percent rise in negativity from last quarter. Meanwhile, 67 percent are concerned about the short-term global economy–up from 60 percent in the last survey.

CFOs in general seem more at ease operating in the present, as all regions show small drops in overall confidence for the long term. For example, in the United States, 62 percent of the finance chiefs express optimism or confidence in the global economy for the next five years, compared with last quarter’s 65 percent. Meanwhile, across the pond, 69 percent of the European CFOs see the glass half full, down from 75 percent in March. — M.L.


Attitudes toward global economy in the short term:
United States Europe Asia Global
Very optimistic n/a 14% n/a 9%
Confident 31% 33% n/a 28%
Neutral 23% 31% 33% 30%
Concerned 46% 19% 67% 31%
Very pessimistic n/a 3% n/a 2%
Attitudes toward own region in the next year:
United States Europe Asia Global
Very optimistic n/a 24% n/a 16%
Confident 31% 33% 11% 31%
Neutral 31% 24% 11% 23%
Concerned 38% 12% 67% 23%
Very pessimistic n/a 7% 11% 7%
Attitudes toward global economy in the next five years:
United States Europe Asia Global
Very optimistic 23% 33% n/a 27%
Confident 39% 36% 67% 40%
Neutral 23% 29% 11% 25%
Concerned 15% 2% 22% 8%
Very pessimistic n/a n/a n/a n/a
Next-quarter profit predictions compared with 2000:
United States Europe Asia Global
Up by 10% 27% 46% n/a 37%
Up by <10% 10% 27% 44% 26%
Down by <10% n/a 3% 11% 3%
Down by 10% + 36% 7% 34% 16%
No change 27% 17% 11% 18%

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