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June 13, 2011

US Bankers, CEOs See Better Times Ahead

by Jeff Seldin

A series of U.S. economic reports over the past few weeks have disappointed investors, sparking concerns the country's economic recovery is starting to stumble.  But new reports from two key groups show their faith in the U.S. economy has not wavered.

Millions of Americans are still out of work.  Consumers are spending little.

Still, chief executives from some the country's leading companies remain optimistic the U.S. economy is just starting to heat up.

"Over 80 percent - 87 percent - say their sales will be increasing," Business Roundtable Executive Director Johanna Schneider noted.  "So that's a reflection of strong demand."

Schneider says the executives also tell the Business Roundtable survey they expect to spend more money over the next six months, which they expect will also lead to more hiring, 51 percent of the CEOs saying their firms will take on new employees.

"The second half of 2011 will be a period of growth.  Not as robust as we would like, but it will be a period of growth," added Schneider.

America's leading executives are not the only ones still feeling good about the prospects for the U.S. economy.

The country's bankers are also optimistic.

A report Tuesday from the American Bankers Association forecasts the country's total economic output, or Gross Domestic Product will grow at a rate of 3 percent through the end of 2012, creating about 4.5 million jobs in the process.  

But none of that means the trouble for the U.S. economy is over.  

The American Bankers Association reports says that even if its prediction for job creation comes true, the U.S. economy will only have created about half the jobs it lost during the recession.

And Business Roundtable Executive Director Johanna Schneider says even the country's leading executives know regaining everything that has been lost will not be easy.

"They have confidence in their own companies and their ability to compete but they are walking into strong headwinds," Schneider said.

Schneider says those strong "headwinds" are high prices for oil and gasoline and the continuing fallout from the Japanese earthquake and tsunami that disrupted the deliver of supplies and components to companies around the world.