America’s CEOs expect more economic expansion in 2011

Amanda Carey Contributor
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America’s CEOs are cautiously optimistic about continued growth in the U.S economy, according to the First Quarter CEO Economic Outlook Survey produced by the Business Roundtable. Overall, the 142 chief executive officers that responded expect increased sales, investing, hiring, and spending to all increase within the next six months.

Respondents also predict a growth of 2.9 percent in GDP in 2011.

“Our CEOs see momentum in the economy over the next six months, with increased demand fueling greater investment and job creation,” said Ivan G. Seidenberg, chairman of Business Roundtable and chairman and CEO of Verizon Communications. “This shift continues a trend as reflected in recent employment data, with the private sector leading the way in creating more jobs.”

In a conference call with reporters, Seidenberg, along with John Engler, former Michigan governor and current president of the Business Roundtable, said that while CEOs are expecting an expansion in the U.S. economy, it’s not all smooth sailing.

When it comes to the possible government shutdown over budget battles on Capitol Hill, Engler and Seidenberg said such a scenario would seriously hamper business operations.”I don’t think any of the CEOs would welcome a government shutdown,” said Seidenberg. “We hope a deal can be struck in the short term.”

Seidengerg said that while businesses don’t want to “get in the middle” of budget negotiations, they do want to encourage both parties to cooperate and reach a budget agreement.

High oil prices are expected to have some impact on consumer spending and confidence, though the specifics are not fully reflected in the survey since it was completed between February 28 and March 18 – before oil prices hit their peak.

Engler did say, however, that while he hopes that the administration doesn’t “take a position we ride this out,” it could become a good opportunity to pursue domestic oil production. “I would that there’s some good that could come from this because it’s long been our view that our domestic operation has lots of opportunity,” he said.

Engler and Seidenberg said that because the Japan earthquake occurred in the middle of the survey, its impact on the business community is still not fully known. “It’s going to take a few more months before people figure out the full impact on business because of [the earthquake],” said Seidenberg.