CFOs Say a Rebound Won't Come Soon

March 4, 2009 ( - A new survey of chief financial officers finds them less optimistic about the economy and planning to cut costs in every way possible.

According to CFO Magazine, 67% of respondents to this quarter’s Duke University/CFO Magazine Global Business Outlook Survey are less optimistic about the economy than they were last quarter. Just 35% expect the economy to begin a recovery this year, while a third are looking to the first half of 2010 and a final third say recovery will not begin until the second half of next year or later.

The survey, conducted in late February among 1,268 respondents around the world, finds 60% of companies already have made layoffs in the past year, and more than half the respondents plan a workforce reduction in the next 12 months. Those anticipated layoffs — expected to average about 6% of companies’ workforces — represent some 7.6 million jobs, according to Campbell Harvey, international professor of finance at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, and the founder of the survey, the news report said.

Finance employees will feel slightly less impact than their colleagues in other departments, as CFOs predict a 4% reduction in accounting and finance staff.

More than half of all survey respondents said their firms plan to freeze pay in the coming 12 months, and 21 indicated wage reductions are planned. Thirty-nine percent of firms plan to reduce employee hours.

In addition, the survey found U.S. companies will pare capital spending by 13% on average over the next 12 months, while advertising and marketing budgets will shrink by 8%, and tech spending will slide more than 5%, according to the news report.