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Bw/Harris Executive Poll: Sunny Side Up


Industry Outlook -- Introduction

BW/HARRIS EXECUTIVE POLL: SUNNY SIDE UP

Executives are a pretty sanguine bunch: For five years running, 80% of them have expected their company's profits to improve, and an even higher proportion have been optimistic about the economy. This year, managers say their sales and staffing will expand, as will investment. Despite the optimism, more of them are starting to worry about the prospect of rising inflation and interest rates. Even so, Alan Greenspan remains well loved, and President Clinton scores higher marks than in 1995.

HIGH HOPES

Overall, how would you characterize your outlook for the U.S. economy in the next 12 months--would you say you are very optimistic, somewhat optimistic, somewhat pessimistic, or very pessimistic?

1996 1995

Very optimistic 13% 8%

Somewhat optimistic 80% 79%

Somewhat pessimistic 7% 13%

Very pessimistic 0% 0%

STEADY GROWTH

Compared to the last 12 months, do you think the rate of growth of the gross domestic product will go up, go down, or stay the same over the next 12 months?

1996 1995 1996 1995

Go up 27% 30% Stay the same 55% 45%

Go down 18% 25%

INFLATION WATCH

Compared to the last 12 months, do you think the rate of inflation, based on the CPI, will go up, go down, or stay the same over the next 12 months?

1996 1995 1996 1995

Go up 31% 12% Stay the same 63% 73%

Go down 5% 15% Don't know 1% 0%

T-BOND TRACK

Compared to where it is right now, do you think the 30-year Treasury rate will go up, go down, or stay the same over the next 12 months?

1996 1995 1996 1995

Go up 38% 24% Stay the same 39% 25%

Go down 17% 47% Don't know 6% 4%

THE JOBLESS RATE

Compared to the last 12 months, do you think the unemployment rate will go up, go down, or stay the same over the next 12 months?

1996 1995 1996 1995

Go up 28% 35% Stay the same 53% 50%

Go down 19% 15%

THE PLEASURE OF YOUR COMPANY

And now some questions about your expectations for your company over the next 12 months. Please give your best estimate. Do you think each of the following will increase or decrease between now and December, 1997?

STAY DON'T

INCREASE DECREASE SAME KNOW

Sales 92% 1% 6% 1%

Full-time employees 48% 18% 34% 0%

Investment in

plant and equipment 65% 11% 21% 3%

Typical prices of standard

products or services 37% 20% 41% 2%

Exports 40% 4% 19% 37%

Wage and salary rates 84% 1% 15% 0%

Health-care costs

per employee 55% 15% 29% 1%

Investment in research

and development 51% 7% 34% 8%

PROFIT PROGNOSIS

Do you think your company's profitability will improve, stay the same, or get worse in 1997?

1996 1995 1996 1995

Improve 81% 78% Get worse 4% 6%

Stay the same 13% 13% Don't know 2% 3%

GREENSPAN FANS

How would you rate the job Alan Greenspan and the Federal Reserve are doing--excellent, pretty good, only fair, or poor?

1996 1995 1996 1995

Excellent 50% 40% Poor 0% 0%

Pretty good 44% 52% Don't know 2% 0%

Only fair 4% 8%

CLINTON TODAY...

How do you rate President Clinton's handling of the economy--excellent, pretty good, only fair, or poor?

1996 1995 1996 1995

Excellent 5% 3% Poor 10% 12%

Pretty good 40% 34% Don't know 4% 1%

Only fair 41% 50%

...AND TOMORROW

Do you think President Clinton, in his second term, will be more favorable to business than he was in his first term, less favorable to business, or about the same?

More favorable 15% About the same 59%

Less favorable 25% Don't know 1%

FRIENDS ON THE HILL?

Do you think the new Congress will be more favorable to business than the last Congress, less favorable, or about the same?

More favorable 21% About the same 74%

Less favorable 5%

A BALANCED-BUDGET AMENDMENT

Do you favor or oppose a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget? Are you strongly or slightly in favor, or slightly or strongly opposed?

Strongly in favor 36% Slightly opposed 19%

Slightly in favor 26% Strongly opposed 15%

Don't know/refused 4%

Survey of 405 senior executives at corporations drawn from the BUSINESS WEEK 1000. Interviews were conducted Nov. 25 to Dec. 13, 1996, and Nov. 30 to Dec. 15, 1995, for BUSINESS WEEK by Louis Harris & Associates Inc.EDITED BY KEITH H. HAMMONDS


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