Nearly half of U.S. chief ;nancial of;cers (CFOs) believe the nation’s economy will enter a recession
by the end of 2019, according to the Duke University/CFO
Global Business Outlook.
Worst-case projections would see capital spending drop in
2019, accompanied by ;at hiring.
The CFO survey has been conducted for 91 consecutive quarters and spans the globe, making it the world’s
longest-running and most comprehensive research on senior
The survey ended Dec. 7, 2018. Results are for the U.S.
unless stated otherwise.
RECESSION LIKELY NEXT YEAR
Nearly half ( 48. 6 percent) of U.S. CFOs believe the na-
tion’s economy will be in recession by the end of 2019, and 82
percent believe a recession will have begun by the end of 2020.
“The end is near for the near-decadelong burst of global
2019 ECONOMIC OUTLOOK
economic growth,” said John Graham, a ;nance professor at
Duke University Fuqua School of Business and director of
the survey. “The U.S. outlook has declined, and moreover
the outlook is even worse in many other parts of the world,
which will lead to softer demand for U.S. goods.”
CFOs are pessimistic in most regions of the world.
Ninety-seven percent of African CFOs believe their countries
will be in recession no later than year-end 2019, as do many
CFOs in Canada (86 percent), Europe ( 67 percent), Asia ( 54
percent) and Latin America ( 42 percent).
In 2019, CFOs expect sub- 3 percent growth for the U.S.
economy, with accompanying capital spending and employment growth of about 3 percent.
“Their recession projections suggest CFOs believe most
of this growth will occur early in the year,” Graham said.
“This means there is still time for the government to use the
tools at their disposal to soften the fall.”
Their forecasts are skewed to the downside, with a 1-in- 10
chance that annual real growth will be 0.6 percent. In this
worst-case scenario, CFOs would expect their capital spend-
ing to fall by 1. 3 percent and for hiring to remain ;at.
“CFOs are getting ready for a recession in the next 18
months,” said Campbell Harvey, a founding director of the
survey who teaches a technology innovation course at Fuqua.
“All of the ingredients are in place: a waning expansion that
began in June 2009 — almost a decade ago — heightened
During the past quarter, which items have been the most pressing
concerns for your company’s top management team?
Difficulty attracting/retaining 46. 7
Government policies 32. 1
Cost of benefits 31. 6
Economic uncertainty 29. 7
Rising wages and salaries 27. 8
Regulatory requirements 22. 2
Rising input or commodity costs 20. 8
Data security 20. 8
Employee productivity 19. 3
Access to capital 15. 6
Weak demand for your products/services 13. 7
Cost of borrowing 12. 7
Other 9. 4 %
Employee morale 8. 5 %
Corporate tax code 8.0 %
Geopolitical/health crises 4. 7 %
Inflation 4. 2 %
Currency risk 4. 2 %
Duke CFO Magazine Global Business Outlook Survey,