Midmarket CFOs See Recovery In 2002

Compiled By Tonya Vinas Most of the 300 midmarket manufacturing CFOs surveyed recently by Fleet Capital, Boston, see the U.S. economy emerging from recession by the end of 2002. Barring another terrorist attack, 92% of those surveyed see the recession ending by then, with 40% expecting recovery to occur in the second quarter and 29% expecting it in the third quarter. Eleven percent expect it in the first quarter, while 12% expect it in the last. The survey was conducted from Oct. 23 through Nov. 9. Margin of error is +/-5.7%. In terms of the present U.S. economy, respondents gave it an overall "fair" rating of 58 on an economic scale ranging from 0 (extremely weak) to 100 (extremely strong). In comparison, the U.S. economy was given an 81 in Fleet's 2001 survey of midmarket CFOs. The respondents cited recent monetary policy for their confidence, as 83% indicated that the Federal Reserve's recent interest rate cuts have benefited the U.S. economy. "Economic and labor market conditions have clearly deteriorated, and are likely to deteriorate a bit further in the months ahead," says Wayne M. Ayers, chief economist at FleetBoston Financial Co., parent company of Fleet Capital. "Yet we expect the aggressive easing of monetary policy, together with the eventual passage of a fiscal stimulus package by the Congress, will keep the current downturn shallow and short-lived."

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