CEOs Darken Outlook, Slash Hiring and Cap-Ex Plans – Hope Now Focused on Share Buybacks (which just Plunged)

The word ‘gloomier’ inconveniently showed up in a Reuters headline that described how the CEOs of the Business Roundtable – one of the thermometers into the brains of corporate America – felt about sales, employment, and capital expenditures. Yet, ‘gloomier’ or not, these CEOs run companies that have been spending near record amounts, not on productive uses such as capital expenditures or hiring more people to push revenues to the next level, but on buying back their own shares.
The Business Roundtable is an association of CEOs of the largest corporations in the US that account for ‘more than a third of the total value of the US stock market,’ according to its website. On its agenda: lower corporate taxes (tax credits!), more immigration of cheap labor, and trade – the big trade agreements currently being negotiated in all secrecy [my take from late last year, though resistance has grown since…. Coming Soon: Corporate Tools To Hollow Out National Sovereignty].
Or, as it says so eloquently, ‘working to promote sound public policy and a thriving US economy.’
But the BRT results didn’t speak of a thriving US economy. ‘CEO plans for investment, hiring and sales over the next six months decreased, with employment plans declining the most,’ the survey stated. It wasn’t pretty:

This post was published at Wolf Street on September 17, 2014.