In our 2Q20 survey (early May), CFOs expressed escalating worries about the impact of COVID-19 on global economies, but also conveyed considerable confidence in their companies’ ability to sufficiently manage return-to-work risks as the US economy began to reopen.
In our mid-cycle poll (mid-June), after having gone through a substantial reopening, CFOs were still mostly confident in their ability to operate effectively, safely, and profitably as economies continued to reopen. At the same time, however, they expressed increasing pessimism about how quickly economic activity and company revenue would return to pre-crisis levels.
As we look forward, CFOs and their companies continue to face daunting COVID-19 challenges and uncertainty as the virus continues to spread and as governments work to manage social and business activity. US Fed Chairman Jerome Powell has stated that the Fed has limited ability to drive the economy in the future, saying much will depend on the path of the virus.
Adding to the uncertainty for both households and businesses, major government stimulus efforts have recently expired, and Congress has yet to agree on a second round of assistance. Upcoming US elections add a further degree of near- and longer-term policy uncertainty.