Updated: Wed, 11/14/2012 - 01:07

Political, economic uncertainy definte Vistage CEO confidence index

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Uncertainty defines Vistage CEO Confidence Index for third quarter

More than 1,500 CEOs surveyed in the third-quarter Vistage CEO Confidence Index reported a continued slowdown in the pace of economic growth and anticipated overall economic conditions would remain subdued into the start of 2013.

More than half of all CEOs identified economic and political uncertainty as the most significant business issue they were now facing. Importantly, half of all CEOs viewed the “fiscal cliff” as a serious economic threat, and half expected it would not be resolved before the end of the year.

Overall, the Vistage Confidence Index was 89.0 in the third quarter 2012 survey, down from 92.8 in the second quarter and 105.1 in the first quarter but above the 83.5 in last year’s 3rd quarter. The latest figures reflect larger concerns about political and economic conditions on the part of top executives.

The recent data indicate continued small declines in confidence as businesses wait for the cloud of uncertainty about federal tax and spending policies to be resolved. The presidential election raises additional questions about what changes in fiscal policies will be made in the coming months.

From the latest Vistage CEO Confidence Index, here are a few highlights of what CEOs antcipate:

• 82 percent believe the U.S. debt burden of $16 trillion has an impact on their business growth.

• 80 percent say the payroll tax holiday has not provided their company with greater capital to invest and expand their business.

• 57 percent believe proposed increases in tax rates for those making between $250,000 and $1 million would affect their small business growth.

• 51 percent take the threat of the “fiscal cliff” very seriously.

• 49 percent expect their firm’s total number of employees to increase during the next 12 months.

• 66 percent expect their firm’s revenues to improve in the next 12 months.

• 23 percent report that overall economic conditions have worsened, compared with one year ago.

The results of this latest Vistage survey indicate that top business executives across America are watching and waiting, hoping 2013 will bring increased certainty, more stable leadership and enhanced economic growth.

Ernst W. Bruderer is the chair of the Savannah/Hilton Head Area chapter of Vistage International, the world’s leading chief executive organization. He can be reached at ernst.bruderer@vistage.com or 843-342-7430.

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