Business Economists Still Fretting

In its most recent survey of 67 firms, the National Association for Business Economics (NABE) continues to expect slow U.S. GDP growth, along with flat sales, margins and employment. Compared with the July survey, an equal percentage (39%) of respondents to the October survey expect sales to rise. Slightly more (16% compared to 11% in July) expect sales to decline, while the rest say sales are expected to be flat.

Other highlights from the survey:

  • In the finance, insurance and real estate sector, 63% of respondents reported rising sales, while only 6% noted declining sales.

  • More than half (58%) said profit margins were flat in the past three months, while 27% reported rising profits and 15% reported falling profits.

  • About 20% reported price increases during the past three months, compared with just 9% reporting price increase in July.

  • About two-thirds do not expect price changes in the current quarter, somewhat less than the 74% who did not expect price changes in July.

  • Some 60% said that materials costs to their firms had not changed in the past three months, compared with 65% in the July survey.

The NABE noted that anxiety over the crisis in Europe has subsided somewhat, although the approaching fiscal cliff remains a "significant" concern.

Paul Ausick

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