Fifty-four percent of business executives in a fourth-quarter survey said they expected their organizations to experience negative effects if a renewed round of economic stimulus is not forthcoming early in the new year, the American Institute of CPAs reported Thursday.
Nearly half of survey participants said lack of renewed stimulus would have a slight or moderate effect on their companies, but 8% predicted it would have a significantly negative one.
In contrast, 34% of survey respondents said a stimulus package would have no effect on their company’s fortunes, while 7% predicted a positive effect. Five percent were unsure what consequences would emerge.
Timing of the implementation of stimulus is also important, the survey showed: 23% of business executives said it would have to come in the next month or two to be effective.
The survey was conducted from Nov. 10 to Dec. 2 among 740 CPAs who hold leadership positions, such as chief financial officer or controller, in their companies.
The AICPA noted that its survey is a forward-looking indicator that tracks hiring and business-related expectations for the next 12 months. The CPA Outlook Index — a comprehensive gauge of executive sentiment within the AICPA survey — rebounded into positive territory in the fourth quarter, and now stands at 62, up from 54 last quarter.
The index is a composite of nine equally weighted survey measures set on a scale of zero to 100, with 50 considered neutral, and higher numbers signifying positive sentiment.
Improved Economic Outlook
Despite rising cases of coronavirus, business executives’ outlook on the U.S. economy improved in the fourth quarter, with 37% expressing optimism about prospects over the next 12 months, up from 24% last quarter.
Respondents’ optimism about the outlook for their own companies also rose, from 41% to 49% expressing optimism. Both indicators continue to show wariness about economic conditions, however, the AICPA noted.