Two Optimism Indexes Show Gains; BusinessWeek/YouGov's Hits 50

Posted by: Greg T. Spielberg on August 10

56359423.jpg A couple of optimism indexes were up recently including BusinessWeek/YouGov’s Optimism Index, which tipped 50 for the first time in its five-month history. While it dropped back down to 49 by Thursday, BusinessWeek/YouGov’s index rattled off a 50, 50, 51, 50 between Aug. 2 and Aug. 5 like it was going for the home run title. The index combines public opinion with economic forecasting of employment, gross domestic product and market-volatility predictions. More than a quarter of the 1,000 respondents to a YouGov poll (our public opinion portion) say that the economy is getting better. This is also the first time more than a quarter of respondents agreed in their optimism since YouGov started polling in mid-September. Then, only 2% of the economy was on the upswing.

The Discover Small Business Watch index gained ground as well, nudging up from 80.9 in June to 82.1 last month. A shade less than a third of the 750 small-business owners think the economy is getting better – in June, it was 26%. The back-to-back growth in optimism comes despite problems getting credit and internal cash flow issues. Business owners say their concerns are eased a bit because of a perception that inflation won’t kick in any time soon.

Dropping a point was the National Federation of Independent Business’ Small Business Economic Trends optimism index, which slipped to 87.9. The NFIB surveys 758 firms about their optimism, borrowing, credit, job vacancies and a host of other business questions. More than 10% of respondents said they have job opening, perhaps a boon for 247,000 nonfarm workers recently laid off.

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BusinessWeek’s Joe Weber, Patricia O'Connell, Michelle Conlin, Frederik Balfour, Peter Coy, Greg Spielberg and Roger Crockett examine The Case for Optimism by looking past the financial turmoil and economic unrest gripping the globe to focus on the promising future that lies on the other side of this storm. We’ll chronicle the forward thinkers investing in R&D, launching promising new products, entering new markets, or implementing management and leadership.

See why BusinessWeek Editor-In-Chief Stephen J. Adler is optimistic about the economy amid the sharpest downturn since the Great Depression.

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