Glimmer of recovery or a dead-cat bounce? Confidence in economic prospects has picked up slightly among chief financial officers around the world-although pessimists still far outnumber optimists. This is according to the latest quarterly poll of over 1,000 CFOs, conducted in late February by Duke University in America, Tilburg University in the Netherlands and CFO, a sister publication to The Economist. But whereas finance chiefs may be marginally less dour than in previous quarters, they are continuing to slash earnings forecasts and are speeding up plans for layoffs and spending cuts. Most CFOs in America, Europe and Asia expect to freeze hiring and wages over the next 12 months.