97 percent of CFOs expect economic downturn

97 percent of CFOs expect economic downturn

A whopping 97 percent of chief financial officers think America is heading for an economic downturn in 2020, but just 3 percent expect a full-blown recession, according to a Deloitte’s fourth quarter survey of CFOs.

That figure is up from 88 percent who expected a downturn in the first quarter of 2019. Sensing economic troubles ahead, 82 percent of the CFOs said they had already taken some sort of defensive action in anticipation of tougher times, well above the 54 percent who said so at the start of 2019.

But the fears of a recession, typically defined as two consecutive quarters of a shrinking economy, have dropped from 15 percent to a paltry 3 percent, indicating expectations that if there is an economic downturn, it will be a mild one.

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The World Bank projects that the U.S. economy will grow at a real rate of 1.8 percent in 2020, down from an estimated 2.3 percent in 2019 and 2.9 percent the year before.

The CFOs have their eyes squarely on the upcoming election, with roughly two-thirds saying that its results will materially affect the U.S. economy beyond 2020.

Among the biggest worries companies say they see is the threat from trade policy, the top external threat cited. Socialist or anti-business policies came in near the bottom, with just 3 CFOs citing it as a risk.

The survey of 147 CFOs from top companies was conducted from Nov. 11 to 22.