CEO confidence hits 15-year high

CEO confidence hits 15-year high
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The new Republican tax law boosted confidence among the nation’s top CEOs to a 15-year high in the first three months of the year, according to a new survey released on Tuesday.

The Business Roundtable (BRT) said that expectations for hiring, capital spending and sales for the first six months of the year all hit records in the January to March quarter, according to the latest CEO economic outlook.

"Tax reform is already prompting more investment, jobs and increased wages and benefits for American workers," said Joshua Bolten, president and CEO of BRT.


But President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Memo: Biden seeks revival in South Carolina Congress eyes billion to billion to combat coronavirus Sanders makes the case against Biden ahead of SC primary MORE's plans for sweeping tariffs are causing unease across the business community and have the the potential of upending the positive outlook.

“Yet the economic progress made by easing regulatory burdens and reforming our tax code faces a looming threat," Bolten said.

"By taking measures to restrict international trade, the Trump administration risks undoing this economic progress and harming American workers and businesses who rely on trade to stay competitive in the global marketplace," he said. 

BRT conducted the poll between Feb. 7 and Feb. 26, before Trump announced the tariffs of 25 percent on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminum.

Along with Republicans on Capitol Hill and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, BRT opposed the president’s move on tariffs.

"Rather than undermining the benefits of tax reform and regulatory relief, the administration should move forward with a positive trade agenda that expands opportunity for American businesses and workers," Bolten said.

Overall, BRT's index increased to 118.6 in the first quarter, exceeding its previous high point of 113 in 2011, and hitting the highest level since the survey began in the fourth quarter of 2002.

From the fourth quarter of last year, CEO plans for hiring rose to 98.5, up 22.8, plans for capital investment increased to 115.4, up 22.7 and expectations for sales reached 141.9, an increase of 19.9.

The CEOs expect the economy to grow at a 2.8 percent pace this year, up from the forecast of 2.5 percent last quarter. But that comes in below the 3 percent prediction recently released by the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers.

"BRT companies are stepping up to share the benefits of a strong business environment with their employees and their communities," said Jamie Dimon, chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co. and BRT's chairman.

"We must do everything possible to continue to build on this strong momentum," Dimon said.