The Business Roundtable third quarter 2014 CEO Economic Outlook Index ‒ which provides a picture of the future direction of the U.S. economy based upon CEOs’ plans for sales, capital spending and hiring ‒ declined moderately from the second quarter. Results show plans for capital expenditures, hiring and sales all decreased relative to the previous quarter, with hiring plans declining the most.

“While some U.S. economic indicators are improving moderately, the results from our survey of CEOs seem to reflect an underperforming U.S. economy held back by policy uncertainty and growing conflicts around the world,” said Randall Stephenson, chairman of Business Roundtable and CEO of AT&T Inc.

CEOs expect 2014 gross domestic product growth of 2.4 percent, roughly the same as last quarter’s estimate of 2.3 percent.

“The U.S. economy continues to perform below its potential,” Stephenson said. “While there are a number of economic issues facing our country, growth remains the top priority. We believe Congress and the Administration must focus on policies that drive economic growth, including tax reform, immigration reform, trade expansion and long-term fiscal stability.”

Survey Results

CEO plans for investment, hiring and sales over the next six month decreased, with employment plans declining the most. The survey’s key findings from this quarter and the second quarter of 2014 include:

CEO Survey Results &

2014 Q2 2014 Q3

Change in Sub-Index

Increase No Change Decrease Sub-Index Increase No Change Decrease Sub-Index

How do you expect your company’s U.S. sales to
change in the next six months?

73% 24% 2% 121 73% 20% 7% 116.4 -4.6

How do you expect your company’s U.S. capital
spending to change in the next six months?

44% 49% 8% 85.9 39% 51% 10% 79.1 -6.8

How do you expect your company’s U.S.
employment to change in the next six months?

43% 43% 14% 79.2 34% 46% 20% 63.5 -15.7

The latest survey also included a special question on tax policy:

  • Nearly 90 percent of CEOs said that tax reform – including a corporate rate of 25 percent and a competitive territorial tax system – would encourage additional investment or cause them to expand their U.S. operations.

Third Quarter 2014 Business Roundtable CEO Economic Outlook Index

The Business Roundtable CEO Economic Outlook Index – a composite index of CEO expectations for the next six months of sales, capital spending and employment – decreased in the third quarter of 2014 to 86.4 from 95.4 in the second quarter of 2014. The long-term average of the Index is 80.2.

About the Business Roundtable CEO Economic Outlook Survey

The Business Roundtable CEO Economic Outlook Survey, conducted quarterly since the fourth quarter of 2002, provides a forward-looking view of the economy by Business Roundtable member CEOs. The survey is designed to provide a picture about the future direction of the U.S. economy by asking CEOs to report their plans for their company’s sales, capex and employment in the next six months. The data are used to create the Business Roundtable CEO Economic Outlook Index and sub-indices for sales, capex and hiring expectations – diffusion indices that range between -50 and 150 – where readings at 50 or above indicate an economic expansion, and readings below 50 indicate an economic contraction. A diffusion index is defined as the percentage of respondents who report that a measure will increase minus the percentage who report that the measure will decrease.

The third quarter 2014 survey was completed between August 11 and August 29, 2014. Responses were received from 135 member CEOs, 65 percent of the total Business Roundtable membership. The percentages in some categories may not equal 100 due to rounding. Results of this and all previous surveys can be found at

Business Roundtable (BRT) is an association of chief executive officers of leading U.S. companies working to promote sound public policy and a thriving U.S. economy.

BRT-member companies produce $7.4 trillion in annual revenues and employ more than 16 million people. Comprising more than a third of the total value of the U.S. stock market, these companies invest $158 billion annually in research and development – equal to 62 percent of private U.S. R&D spending. In addition, they pay more than $200 billion in dividends to shareholders and generate more than $540 billion in sales for small and medium-sized businesses annually. BRT companies give more than $9 billion a year in combined charitable contributions.

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