America’s Corporate Executives Are Bracing for a 2020 Recession


The longest economic expansion in modern American history could come to a screeching halt right before the 2020 presidential election.

The Duke University and CFO Global Business Outlook study found that 48.1 percent of U.S. CFOs believe the nation will be in recession by the second-quarter of 2020; about 69 percent believe a recession will have begun by the end of next year. It’s the third consecutive quarter that CFOs have warned a recession could hit by 2020.

“We’re overdue for one of those cleansing recessions,” Duke professor John Graham said in an interview.

In all, the survey indicated that chief financial officers still believe the economy is weakening and the prospects for their businesses are declining. The reasons for their concerns vary, with some citing tariffs and others listing strong competition, freight costs and credit risks, among other issues.

Not surprisingly given the labor shortage, business executives strongly back more accommodative immigration policies.For instance, 83% of US CFOs support America offering expedited green cards to allow foreign graduate students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields to work in the United States.

The results do match other parts of the world, where belief that a recession is coming is running high. In Africa, 85% of CEOs see recession coming, while CFOs in Europe (63%), Asia (57%) and Latin America (52%) see recessions by the second quarter of 2020.

There is about a 60% chance of a recession starting in the United States by the end of next year, according to a National Association for Business Economics survey published earlier this month. Most economists in that report cited protectionist trade policy as the leading risk to the US economy.


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