The votes are in, and while CFOs are divided about the possibility of a double-dip recession and about whether they will or won’t alter their strategies in the face of this week’s madness, they do agree on one thing: Washington is at fault.
Three hundred senior finance executives responded to our Web poll on Wednesday, and when asked whether they agree or disagree that (to steal a sound bite from President Obama) the country’s economic problems are solvable, and lawmakers can solve them, a stunning 88% said they agree with the first part but disagree with the second. In fact, only 3% disagreed with both parts of the equation, which might be regarded as a form of optimism. (This week we’ll take what we can get.)
Asked to assign relative levels of culpability to a roster of potential suspects, finance executives once again singled out federal lawmakers as primarily responsible. Wall Street came in second (when adding the scores for “extremely” and “moderately” responsible), while European lawmakers came in a very close third. Attitudes toward the rating agencies, meanwhile, were almost evenly split, possibly because we asked about them in the aggregate rather than pointing only to Standard & Poor’s. We’ll dive deeper into that issue in a subsequent story.
As for this week’s stock market volatility, 56% said they regard it as an overreaction that will correct within, at most, a few months. But 21% said they don’t expect even a modest rebound this year, and an equal number said the Dow won’t match its summer high (12,724 on July 21) until well into 2012.