Private companies upbeat about US economic prospects


Most of the economic surveys we’ve seen lately have been flat to slightly negative, but here’s one that is slightly up over previous quarter and significantly up year over year. It comes from PwC, and it suggests that global strife is making the US business climate look more attractive to international corporations.

According to the PwC US Private Company Trendsetter Barometer, 64% of executives at private companies are optimistic that business conditions will improve over the next 12 months, 1% better than the previous quarter and 13% better than Q1 2010.

International companies were more sanguine about the immediate future than their US-only colleagues, with 67% of the globals on the optimistic side compared to 61% of the domestics.

The optimism for the world economy as a whole was far more muted, coming in at 54%.

“We’re seeing the return of the US consumer and the strengthening of the domestic market,” says Ken Esch, a partner with PwC’s Private Company Services practice. “At the same time, there has been increasing uncertainty around the globe, including political unrest, natural disasters, and renewed concern over debt problems in European countries. It stands to reason, then, that Trendsetter companies operating abroad have begun to view the US economy somewhat more positively than the world economy. Yet the recession has also shown the limitations of having a domestic-only business, and so we expect that private companies will continue to seek opportunities abroad – particularly in emerging and fast-growth markets – as an effective way to hedge economic risk at home.”

The results are even better when the execs were asked to assess their own company’s prospects. The positive response was 85%, up 2% from Q4. 40% are expecting to express their 12-month revenue growth in double digits.