Business Leaders Economic Optimism Lags Pre-Pandemic

Midsize business leaders in the United States are far less optimistic about the national economy now than they were in the years before the pandemic.

That's according to JP Morgan Chase's 2023 midyear Business Leaders Outlook survey, which found 29% of leaders have a positive outlook about the U.S. economy today, up from 22% in January. From 2012 to early 2020, however, the average level of optimism was 66%.

Attitudes about the global economy also remain low. Only 15% of leaders are optimistic about the global economy today. And while that is up from January (8%), it is much lower than before the pandemic, when the average level of optimism was almost 30%.

Concerns about a recession are mixed. Nearly half (45%) expect an economic downturn this year or believe we are already in one, while 20% are unsure about a recession.

But there are plenty of bright spots in the report. Most leaders (67%) are still optimistic about their own company’s performance. More than half expect their sales and profits to increase this year. And 85% expect to add or keep staff.

On the policy front, two-thirds of leaders believe the Fed should pause rate hikes; only 16% believe the Fed should raise rates, the JP Morgan survey found. Even fewer (11%) think rates should be cut.

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