CEO confidence falls sharply amid increasingly fraught geopolitical landscape


The Conference Board Measure of CEO Confidence fell sharply in both the US and Europe in the second quarter. Still, CEOs were upbeat about employment prospects.

In the US, the measure fell to a reading of 42 in the second quarter from 57 in the first quarter. In Europe, the measure fell to a reading of 37 in the first half of this year from a reading of the 63 in the second half of 2021. Readings below 50 points reflect more negative responses than positive responses to the measure’s survey.

In China, meanwhile, the reading was 34. This was the first time The Conference Board measured CEO confidence in the country.

“Unsurprisingly, CEO confidence is low across the board as the geopolitical landscape becomes more fraught,” said Sara Murray, managing director – international, The Conference Board. “It is clear from our results that CEOs expect the world to divide into competing economic blocs.”

The Conference Board also noted CEOs in Europe and the US were positive about employment.

The picture is rosiest in the US, where 63% of CEOs still expect to expand their workforce. In Europe, hiring intentions did not decline compared to six months ago. However, negative views outweighed positive ones in China.

CEOs predicted the global business environment will look different in five years. The report said 60% of CEOs in the US say geopolitical tensions will likely result in the globe dividing into Western/democratic and Chinese/Russian spheres.

Respondents to the survey included 57 members of the European Round Table for Industry, and 30 CEOs in China at US and European companies operating in the country. CEOs in the US were surveyed in collaboration with The Business Council.