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by Mish

I think so. More importantly, so do CEOs of large corporations.

In December, a quarterly survey of large corporation CEOs showed a minuscule net of 1% (35% to 34%)  of corporations expected an increase in hiring. 31% expected no change.

The latest quarterly survey shows nearly 10% (29% to 38%) of large corporation CEOs expect to reduce headcount. The remaining 33% expect no change.

CEO Economic Survey Details

Let’s dive into the Business Roundtable First Quarter 2016 CEO Economic Outlook Survey for more details.

Mixed Bag?

For the fourth quarter in a row, CEO expectations on the economy remain mixed.
CEO expectations for sales over the next six months increased by 8.5 points, and their plans for capital expenditures increased by 7.1 points, relative to last quarter. Hiring plans declined by nearly 10 points from last quarter.

Mixed Bag Not

Is that an ominous report or a mixed bag?

On the surface one can make a claim either way. The business outlook is up huge as are capital spending expectations.

However, CEOs are clueless about where the economy is headed.

CEO Outlook

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Notice the perpetually lagging nature of the CEO Economic Outlook.

GDP is a lagging indicator. The aggregate CEOs’ economic outlook is even more lagging. That’s quite a pathetic under-performance.

Jobs are also a lagging indicator.

Battle of Lagging Indicators

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In the battle of lagging indicators, results show the CEO hiring index was amazingly coincident with nonfarm payrolls from 2003 until late 2012.

What happened?

Obamacare!

  1. The newly created Obamacare health insurance marketplaces opened for enrollment on October 1, 2013.
  2. Starting 2014, citizens were required to have insurance.
  3. Businesses with 50 or more full-time employees had to offer insurance benefits to their employees.
  4. Obamacare reduced the number of hours to 30 that it took to be considered a full-time employee.
  5. Employers cut hours and hired more part-time workers.

Five Consequences

  1. The hiring binge associated with Obamacare is finally over.
  2. US job growth will “unexpectedly” slow dramatically now that CEO hiring plans have weakened to the point of contraction.
  3. Talk of rate hikes will morph into talk of easing.
  4. The US dollar will sink further.
  5. Gold, not the stock market, will be the big beneficiary of this “unforeseen” jobs weakness.

If you want a bonus sixth consequence, please add rising anger over the “Broken Social Contract“.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock