More than Half of CEOs Expect a Recession Ahead

May 18, 2022

Sentiment among corporate executives has fallen sharply in recent months, with the majority expecting a recession ahead, according to The Conference Board’s quarterly survey of CEOs.

More than half, 57%, of the survey’s respondents expect inflation to come down over the next few years, but not without the economy falling into a “very short, mild recession.”

The survey also found a growing sense of pessimism among CEOs. The Measure of CEO Confidence fell to 42, a steep decline from the first quarter’s reading of 57 and the lowest since the early days of the pandemic. Any reading below 50 indicates a negative outlook and expectations of contraction rather than expansion.

Just 14% of the respondents said that business conditions had improved during the second quarter, down from 34% who felt that way during the first quarter. The majority, 61%, said conditions had worsened during the quarter. 

Only 19% said they expect business conditions to improve in the coming quarter, while 60% expect them to worsen. That is a marked turnaround from the first quarter when 50% expected conditions to improve.

Despite worsening expectations, 63% of the respondents expect to hire in the next quarter, down only slightly from 66% in the first quarter. However, 80% said they are still having trouble finding qualified workers.


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