Chief executives’ economic prospects are at their highest in at least 20 years. But Omicron can change that

Influential trade group The Business Roundtable said Wednesday that the CEO’s economic outlook survey rose during the fourth quarter to the highest level in its 20-year history, surpassing even the high levels seen after the enactment of President Donald Trump’s tax cuts in late 2017.

“These historic positive results may seem surprising, particularly in light of ongoing uncertainty about the course of the pandemic, supply chain disruptions, inflationary pressures, and the threat of significant tax increases,” Business Roundtable CEO Joshua Bolten told reporters during a press conference in Washington. .

But there is a caveat: The survey of business leaders was conducted between November 3 and November 22, before Omicron news headlines, Bolton said.

“Continued progress in defeating the pandemic, including new variables, will be essential to sustain robust growth in the second half of 2022,” Walmart (WMT) CEO Doug McMillon, who is also chairman of the trade group’s board of directors, said in a statement.

CEOs have indicated that they plan to increase hiring and business investment, and they also expect higher sales.

Nearly half, 48%, of CEOs surveyed identify labor expenditures as the single greatest cost pressure their business is currently facing.

Omicron can ‘damn things’

Bolton acknowledged that the Omicron variant has the potential disrupted economic recoveryBut he said it was too early to say for sure.

“If it’s such a dramatic shift as the delta variable, it’s definitely going to get in the way,” Bolton told reporters at a news conference in the capital.

But he cautioned that members of the trade group’s CEO take the view that it is too early to assess Omicron’s potential economic impact.

“We don’t know, because the experts don’t know. Everyone’s toes are crossed because it’s not so bad,” Bolton said, adding later, “It’s to be determined later, with a lot of people very concerned.”

Despite the Omicron news, the CEOs still planned to meet in Washington on Thursday.

Whoever says he’s going, will come,” Bolton said. “We follow a very strict protocol of insisting that everyone entering the venue is vaccinated and recently tested, including employees, vendors and caterers.”

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