Only 8% of CFOs still anticipate a recession

In January, 98 percent of U.S. CEOs agreed there would be a "short and shallow" recession. Now, that anticipation is waning in the C-suite, Fortune reported Aug. 22. 

The publication analyzed a new survey of 600 U.S. C-suite leaders from PwC. Seventeen percent of executives strongly agreed that there is still a recession to come in the next six months — and their role appears to influence their perspective. 

Just 8 percent of CFOs expect a recession, compared with 27 percent of chief operating officers. They're looking at the situation through different lenses, Wes Bricker, U.S. vice chair and trust solutions co-leader at PwC, told Fortune

"CFOs have spent, I would say, the better part of the COVID crisis and beyond really anchoring scenario planning, shoring up their balance sheet writing, and their cost structure. I think that gives them optimism across multiple scenarios that they'll help guide the company to financial success," Mr. Bricker said. "I think what we see in the data is that COOs are looking at multiple scenarios around the transformation work with a bit more caution than the chief financial officers who feel ready to allocate capital to invest in the future." 

Healthcare is considered a "recession-proof" industry by some, Becker's Noah Schwartz wrote in July. He asked hospital CFOs if they were concerned about a recession. 

"Obviously, people's healthcare needs don't cease to exist just because the economy is in distress," Terry Collins, CFO of Rifle, Colo.-based Grand River Health Hospital, told Becker's. "In fact, you could argue that healthcare needs might even increase during a recession because of the additional stress people feel during difficult economic times."

But hospital CFOs shouldn't expect complete insulation from a slumping economy, either, some said. 

"Initially, hospitals may be recession-proof after the defining two quarters of decline in GDP. However, as the recession goes on, more jobs are lost and insurance coverage is lost with those jobs," said Gene Finley, CFO of Camden, Ala.-based J Paul Jones Hospital. "Hospitals should see a rise in self-pay patients, and with that, a rise in bad debt."

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