The Deutsche Börse AG and the Institute for Supply Management this week released the findings of its annual Chicago Business Barometer Report (CBBR). This edition shows business conditions have improved for the 28th consecutive month in the US although there are also signs of a slowdown in the economic recovery – you could say not entirely unexpectedly given the harsh trading environment last year across all geographies. Importantly however the index also points towards US businesses still having a positive outlook in spite of the present global conditions.
If we compare these results with the findings of the 2011 Sage Business Index, US SMBs’ attitudes towards future prospects had already started to improve towards the end of 2011 and while no-one could have accurately predicted the Eurozone crisis; this was still in the context of an overall cautious optimism. Big on the list of future plans then was the idea of investing in the “future”. For SMBs in US, Q4 of 2011 was about investment in sales, marketing; innovation through technology and diversifying into new markets. One US business owner is quoted saying: “Those who are more innovative, adaptable and efficient will survive.”
It would appear the US SMB community is sticking to the plan.
Last year’s respondents from the Sage Business Indices where snapshots of attitudes towards business outlooks were taken first in February and again in September, showed cautious optimism early in the year that only marginally improved by the Autumn. And with the exception of Spain – that marginal improvement was mirrored globally.
Broadly speaking when it came to global economic confidence, the general mood was that global confidence was declining, with the UK and US the least optimistic of all regions. Compare these results with their feelings about local economies and the picture was decidedly mixed. Canada’s SMBs appeared upbeat while the US and most of Europe were much less so. One exception were Germany’s small enterprises – relatively speaking they were positively brimming with confidence and all of this of course pointing to the fact that no-one really knew what to expect.
Another US business owner said it best: “I’m confident there will be a recovery, but it is years down the road”. Wise words indeed.