By Alex Kowalski
WASHINGTON - Chief financial officers in the U.S. are less confident the recovery in the worldâ€™s largest economy will accelerate in 2012 as government policy weighs on growth, according to a Bank of America Corp. survey.
Forty-nine percent of finance heads projected the U.S. economy will grow next year at about the same pace as this year, according to the results of an annual poll taken by the second- biggest U.S. bank by assets. Thirty-eight percent see a pickup, down from 56 percent in last yearâ€™s survey and 66 percent a year earlier. Respondents also rated the economy 44 out of 100, the lowest since the survey began in 1998.
Regarding their own companies, 56 percent of chief financial officers anticipated an increase in revenue next year, down from 64 percent in 2011. Payrolls will probably expand at 46 percent of the companies in the survey, will remain about the same at 48 percent and shrink at 7 percent, little changed from last yearâ€™s poll.
â€śMany CFOs are hoping for more positive signs of consistent economic stability and growth -- in the U.S. and abroad,â€ť Laura Whitley, head of Global Commercial Banking at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, said in a statement. â€śWhile they remain cautious, it is encouraging to see that reservations about the economy wonâ€™t translate to reductions in the overall workforce.â€ť
Seven of every 10 chiefs surveyed said â€śthe effectiveness of U.S. government leadersâ€ť posed a risk to the economy next year. Four other issues, including the budget deficit, health-care costs, unemployment and consumer confidence were a concern to more than 50 percent of respondents, the survey showed, the first time in the history of the poll that so many issues received those levels of attention.
The survey, conducted between September and November, includes responses from 600 CFOs, finance directors and other executives randomly selected from U.S. companies with annual revenue between $20 million and $2 billion. The margin of error was 4 plus or minus percent.