The CEO Poll: Economy won't weaken in 2011

Canadian CEOs expect the economy to remain steady in the new year.

This year, Canadian CEOs may spend more time fretting about keeping their own resolutions than the state of economy. When asked to describe the current state of Canada’s economy, 49% of those surveyed as part of a Compas Inc. poll said it was good, and 47% answered it was fair. This marks a positive shift from May 2009, when only 18% said the economy was in good shape, but is slightly less optimistic than three years ago, when 53% answered good to the same question.

Most execs aren’t expecting significant economic problems in the next six months, with 54% saying that the economy will remain about the same. There is also a sizable number of cautious optimists out there — 39% think the economy will become “somewhat better” over the next six months, while just 8% think it will get worse. “A strong housing industry, particularly in Ontario, is one of the reasons that the Canadian economy is performing better than other G20 countries, despite considerable shortfalls in our manufacturing sector,” explained one CEO.

Canadian executives were more skeptical when it came to the global economic recovery. When asked how long it would take for the global economy to turn around in a sustained, positive direction, they said it would take 23 months. When asked the same question in 2009, they predicted it would take just 14 months. One CEO attributed the continued problems in the global economy to excessive government spending. “There are too many big salaries in governments,” the exec said. “They’re just spending more all the time.”

In regard to the value of the Canadian dollar, executives thought it would stay at parity. They predicted that it would be at exactly US$1 in one year’s time.

When the executives were asked to rate various government bodies’ current performances in regards to the economy, the Bank of Canada scored the highest, with execs giving it 74 on a 100-point scale. Trailing behind was the Harper government, scoring 68 points, followed by the Obama administration, with 51 points. The U.S. Federal Reserve and the outgoing and incoming U.S. Congress all scored under 50 points.