Recession tops list of CEOs’ economic concerns

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American CEOs are most worried about a recession as the new year begins, according to the latest survey by The Conference Board.

Economic decline topped the list of concerns for American chief executives heading into a crucial election year, compared with 12 months ago when recession was only third on their list of worries.

One reason for the growing concern, according to the survey, is the decrease in global gross domestic product (GDP).

“The ongoing concerns about recession risk among business leaders reflect the slowing economy of the past year and the uncertainties about the outcome of the trade disputes and other policy concerns,” Bart van Ark, The Conference Board’s chief economist, said in a statement.

Global GDP slowed to 2.3 percent in 2019, from 3 percent the previous year.

“However, given a slightly better outlook for the global economy and an easing of trade tensions, we anticipate that a drumbeat of negative sentiment — which can become a self-fulling prophecy — can be avoided, and that we will see more confidence about business prospects in 2020,” van Ark added.

The Trump administration is slated to sign the first phase of a trade deal with China later this month, a sign of progress in a trade war between the world’s two largest economies that began in July 2018.

President Trump has repeatedly highlighted U.S. stock market gains and the strength of the economy as part of his reelection campaign. Financial markets reached record highs in 2019 and the unemployment rate has remained near a 50-year low.

The second-biggest concern for American CEOs, according to the Conference Board survey, was “more intense competition,” followed by a “tight labor market.”

“Global political instability” and “uncertainty about global trade” tied for fourth.

The research group projects that global GDP will expand 2.5 percent in 2020. A survey of global CEOs also ranked “recession risk” as their top concern.

Tags American economy Donald Trump GDP growth The Conference Board
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