Confidence Level Among American CEOs Hits New Low

The confidence of American business leaders has hit a new low.

A Business Roundtable survey released Wednesday shows that the confidence of U.S. Chief Executives continues to erode. The lobbying group for large American companies said its "CEO Economic Outlook” cooled in the second quarter for a fifth-straight time and fell to its lowest level since U.S. President Donald Trump took office.

The reasons cited for the declining confidence levels include Trump’s ongoing trade wars, notably with China, and increased risks of an economic downturn. The roundtable group is not in favor of the trade tariffs that Trump favours.

The Business Roundtable said in its report that if Trump increases tariffs on a further $300 billion in imports from China, as the president has threatened, the impact would go beyond the relatively small direct cost for the world’s largest economy and affect business sentiment and future investment levels.

The results are based on a survey of 127 U.S. CEOs conducted from May 16 to June 3. During that period, tensions between the U.S. and two of its largest trading partners – China and Mexico – escalated.

Other highlights from the report include: sales expectations fell to the lowest of Trump’s presidency; plans for capital investments and hiring both dropped to their weakest levels since 2017; CEOs project a 2.6% expansion in the U.S. economy this year; and the overall measure of CEO confidence has eased each quarter since reaching a record high at the start of 2018.