The majority of chief financial officers at top companies believe inflation is set to get worse in the United States, with nearly 20 percent stating the country is already in a recession.
The CNBC CFO Council quarterly survey was conducted among 21 chief financial officers at major organizations between Sept. 12 and 27. Members of the council include 44 percent of CFOs from Fortune 500 firms, of which half are from Fortune 100 firms.
It found that a majority of CFOs (57 percent) do not believe inflation has yet peaked. Elsewhere, over a quarter of the CFOs cited inflation as the biggest external risk factor facing their businesses.
Nearly half (48 percent) of CFOs polled said they expect a recession in the first half of 2023, while 19 percent said they expect a recession in the fourth quarter of this year, up from 13 percent in Q2.
Another 19 percent said that they believe the U.S. economy is already in a recession.
The latest survey comes after a revised government report showed that the U.S. economy contracted for two consecutive quarters this year, meaning it technically meets the rule-of-thumb definition for a recession.
U.S. GDP, which measures the production of goods and services, fell at an annual rate of 0.6 percent in the second quarter of 2022, unchanged from the last reading from the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
Soft Landing ‘Very Challenging’
In the first quarter, real GDP had already decreased 1.6 percent in the first months of the year.
However, the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) Business Cycle Dating Committee—the official body that declares a recession—has not yet called one.
NBER defines a recession as a “significant decline in economic activity that is spread across the economy and that lasts more than a few months,” meaning the two quarters of negative growth fits that definition.
In an attempt to cool down red-hot inflation, the Federal Reserve raised its benchmark interest rate by 75 basis points for the third straight month on Sept. 21.
The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) has continued stating that it is “strongly committed to returning inflation to its 2 percent objective” and is “prepared to adjust the stance of monetary policy as appropriate if risks emerge that could impede the attainment of the Committee’s goals.”
However, Fed Chair Jerome Powell has acknowledged that avoiding a recession is “very challenging” and that rates may be heading higher and could be more restrictive for “some time” as inflation continues to run too high.
Of the CFOs polled in the CNBC CFO Council survey, more than half (52 percent) said they support the Fed’s policy moves aimed at taming inflation, stating that its efforts have been “fair,” while 19 percent said they have been “good.”
Approximately 29 percent of those surveyed said those efforts have been “poor.”