Most American CFOs think the U.S. economy is poised for a strong recovery from the coronavirus pandemic nearly one year after the crisis triggered the worst downturn since the Great Depression.
More than 70% of CFOs surveyed by the Deloitte Global CFO Program Leader said they expect the economy to improve over the course of the next 12 months as more Americans receive the COVID-19 vaccine, allowing state and local governments to ease pandemic-induced business restrictions. About 29% of CFOs rated the current economic conditions as "good," an increase of 16 percentage points from the previous quarter, according to the survey, published Thursday.
In fact, more than one-third -- about 37% -- of CFOs said their company is already at, or above, its pre-crisis operating level. Just 10% of respondents said their company won't return to those levels until 2022.
The optimistic outlook is in line with new economic projections released Wednesday by the Federal Reserve: Policymakers expect real GDP, the broadest measure of goods and services produced in the nation, to surge 6.5% this year.
Officials forecast gains of 3.3% and 2.2% in 2022 and 2023, respectively. On the unemployment side, the central bank said it expects unemployment to fall to 4.5% by the end of 2021 and return to the pre-crisis level of 3.5% by 2023.
The CFO study comes as more Americans are vaccinated, spurring hope that some of the hardest-hit service industry businesses will be able to more fully reopen at some point this year. On top of that, President Biden last week signed into law a sweeping relief plan that will pump another $1.9 trillion into the nation's economy.
The study, conducted between Feb. 8-19, involved 128 CFOs, 69% from public companies and 31% from privately held companies.