Strategy

The CEO Poll: Recovery still months away

Expect another downturn before the real recovery begins say Canadian CEOs.

Business leaders give the federal mini-budget high marks.

Most Canadian CEOs think there are still months of economic uncertainty ahead despite the Bank of Canada’s recent declaration that the recession is over.

A survey conducted by Compas Inc., reveals that Canadian executives think it will take 13 months before the country sees a real recovery — 57% of the 123 surveyed believe there’s a good chance a “second dip” will slow economic growth.

A second slide, which could come in late 2010, says TD economist Derek Holt, won’t just affect Canada. A majority of CEOs think the United States and other countries will also see another dive before a meaningful recovery can take place.

“Overall, we haven’t completely bottomed out,” wrote one of the polled execs. “All of the underlying problems haven’t been fixed and, as a result, we are still vulnerable to a few more small corrections.”

While the poll’s results indicate this country’s execs are a bit pessimistic about an imminent recovery, 57% still believe the Canadian economy is in fair condition today, and 25% say it’s in good shape. Just 18% said the economy was doing poorly.

Perhaps one reason for the lack of naysayers is the executives’ belief in this country’s policymakers. They gave the Bank of Canada a score of 70% when asked to rate the central bank’s performance, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper earned 66%. Their American counterparts fared considerably worse: the Obama administration and the U.S Federal Reserve received 60%, and the U.S. Congress scored 48%.

When asked to make specific comments about Canada’s economic recovery, some CEOs indicated it’s too early to claim the recession is over. “There are too many variables impacting the recovery,” one CEO explained. “U.S. unemployment, strength in the Canadian dollar, the Buy American policy — it will be a slow recovery.”

Another exec wrote: “Changing confidence will take a long time. Consumers are paying down debt and not spending. Government programs will only go so far, but until there is meaningful improvement in unemployment, the current set of affairs will continue.”