Daily News: December 10, 2012

AFP: Executives Foresee Modest Growth in H2/13

Finance professionals remain cautious in their economic outlook, believing the U.S. economy will grow at the modest pace of 1.7% in the coming year, creating an additional 1.3 million jobs, according to a survey by the Association for Financial Professionals (AFP).

The AFP Business Outlook Survey, which has tracked business predictions of CFOs, corporate treasurers and other financial executives for the last nine years, found that nearly half of survey respondents (46%) anticipate improved business conditions in 2013, with much of this growth occurring in the second half of the year. However, they temper their prediction with a caveat: Growth is in jeopardy if U.S. budget issues cannot be resolved quickly.

Respondents indicated that Congress and the White House must act immediately to resolve long-term budget deficits, with over 60% believing the solution must be a combination of spending cuts and increased tax revenues.

The threat of a fiscal cliff is already affecting some organizations’ decisions on hiring and capital investments. Any agreement that defers decisions on fiscal issues would not be acceptable to corporate financial executives. Almost two-thirds of organizations say Washington’s inability to reach consensus on a number of issues of economic importance makes them at least somewhat more hesitant to make investments for growth.

“Many companies are poised on the brink of growth,” said Jim Kaitz, AFP’s president and CEO, “but political theater is having a crippling effect on corporate spending and hiring, even corporate decision-making.”

In order to improve business conditions and stimulate hiring and investment, respondents believe Washington must agree on a long-term plan to reduce the federal budget deficit. While a majority believes this should be done with a blended approach, 35% believe the deficit should be reduced primarily or exclusively with spending cuts, while only 4% of respondents emphasized tax revenue increases as the solution to reducing the deficit.

A plurality of companies expects to expand payrolls next year, both within and outside the U.S. Forty-two percent of organizations will expand employment in the U.S. during 2013. Among companies that have employees outside the U.S., 41% plan to expand further internationally.

To read the full report, click here.