Data & Results – Q2 2022

June 29, 2022

Economic Outlook for 2022 Deteriorates

Views on the economy among CFOs have worsened for 2022. CFOs expressed a decline in optimism about the economy and reduced expectations for real GDP growth. Respondents also expected higher cost and price pressures for their firms and flat real revenue growth.

News Release

  • CFO Optimism

    Optimism about the U.S. economy continued to fall in the second quarter. When survey participants were asked between May 25 and June 10 to rate their optimism about the overall U.S. economy, the average index was 50.7, compared to 54.8 last quarter and 60.3 two quarters ago.

  • CFOs’ Most Pressing Concerns

    In the second quarter, CFOs continued to cite labor quality/availability and cost pressures/inflation as top concerns.

  • CFOs’ Expectations for Their Firms’ Performance

    CFOs expected price pressures to worsen for 2022. The median CFO expectation for unit cost growth in 2022 rose to 8 percent in the second quarter from 6 percent in the first quarter.

    Adjusted for inflation, CFOs do not expect their revenues to grow on average in 2022, down from expected real revenue growth of approximately 3 percent in last quarter’s survey.

    CFOs’ Growth Expectations for Their Own Firms, by Response QuarterQ2 2022Q1 2022
    Mean (and Median) Expected Year-Over-Year Percentage Change for Calendar Years2022202320222023
    Revenue9.3%
    (8.0%)
    6.7%
    (6.0%)
    11.2%
    (9.0%)
    9.9%
    (8.0%)
    Price9.3%
    (6.0%)
    5.8%
    (4.0%)
    8.4%
    (5.0%)
    6.0%
    (5.0%)
    Employment (full-time)4.5%
    (2.6%)
    3.7%
    (2.3%)
    4.5%
    (3.3%)
    5.4%
    (3.4%)
    Wage Bill8.4%
    (7.0%)
    6.9%
    (5.0%)
    7.8%
    (5.0%)
    6.1%
    (5.0%)
    Non-wage Compensation8.0%
    (7.0%)
    7.6%
    (6.0%)
    7.3%
    (6.0%)
    7.1%
    (5.0%)
    Unit Cost10.2%
    (8.0%)
    6.5%
    (5.0%)

    8.3%
    (6.0%)

    7.0%
    (5.0%)
    Note: Q2 2022 data in the table reflect results for 292 to 309 U.S. firms responding to the Q2 2022 survey (May 25 – June 10, 2022). Results from the Q1 2022 survey (March 7-18, 2022) are shown for comparison (for 317 to 337 firms). See additional notes in the chart above.
  • CFOs’ Expectations for the Aggregate Economy

    CFOs on average expect real GDP to grow 1.5 percent over the next 12 months, down from an expectation of 2.5 percent last quarter. Across CFOs, the average probability of negative GDP growth over the next 12 months was 21 percent, compared to a 12 percent probability last quarter.

    CFOs’ Expectations for Real GDP Growth Over Next Four Quarters, by Response QuarterQ2 2022
    (N=291)
    Q1 2022
    (N=312)
    Weighted Mean1.5%2.5%
    Weighted Median1.7%2.8%
    Probability of Negative Growth
    (mean share of probability on bins below zero)
    20.8%12.3%
    Note: Responses are weighted by sales revenue. See additional notes in the chart above.
    Expectations for Stock Market Performance, by Response QuarterQ2 2022Q1 2022
    Expected Annual S&P 500 Returns Over Next 12 Months and Next 10 Years12 Mos
    (N=221)
    10 Yrs
    (N=233)
    12 Mos
    (N=223)
    10 Yrs
    (N=241)
    Worst Case (a 1-in-10 chance the actual return will be less than):-8.2%3.2%-6.2%2.9%
    Most Likely Case2.4%9.3%3.6%8.6%
    Best Case (a 1-in-10 chance the actual return will be greater than):8.7%14.2%9.5%13.2%
    Note: The table shows responses from firms that indicated they closely follow the stock market. Results from the Q1 2022 survey (March 7-18, 2022) are shown for comparison. Responses are unweighted and winsorized at 2.5% and 97.5% to remove the potential influence of extreme values. Please see The CFO Survey Methodology for further information.
    Source: Duke University, FRB Richmond and FRB Atlanta, The CFO Survey – Q2 2022 (May 25 – June 10, 2022)
  • Special Questions on Borrowing and Interest Rates

    The survey asked CFOs whether capital spending plans would be affected by increases in their borrowing interest rate. The survey closed prior to the Federal Open Market Committee’s 0.75 percentage point increase in the federal funds rate target on June 15, 2022.

    Approximately 60 percent of responding firms said they do not plan to borrow to fund operations in the next 12 months, so may be buffered from interest rate hikes.

    Most firms that do not plan to borrow report having enough cash on hand to fund operations for the next 12 months.

    Among firms that plan to borrow, a sizable share of firms indicated they would decrease capital investment plans if their borrowing rate increased by 2 or 3 percentage points.

    For additional discussion of these results, visit our Research & Commentary section.

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