USA Inc’s ponderous recovery

ON THE HUSTINGS, both Donald Trump and Joe Biden promised to revive America’s economy from its pandemic-induced funk. Doing so will require a turnaround for corporate America, which has suffered a savage downturn. When the occupant of the White House starts his four year term in January, in what state will American business be?

Some recent vital signs may look promising. America’s economy expanded at a record pace of 33%, on an annualised basis, in the third quarter. Total profits for the big firms of the S&P 500 index have surpassed analysts’ expectations by roughly a fifth, with 85% beating forecasts for the quarter. Michael Wilson of Morgan Stanley, a bank, calculates that revenues for the median S&P 500 firm rose by 1% year on year. Small wonder that the Conference Board, a research organisation, published a survey on October 20th finding that its measure of confidence of bosses at big companies has jumped to 64 from 45 in the previous quarter—a figure above 50 indicates more positive than negative responses.

Yet anyone tuning into big firms’ quarterly update calls with Wall Street investors could not help but pick up the tentative tone and frequent dour notes of executives. Visa, a payments company, for example, called the recovery “uneven”. Caterpillar, a maker of industrial machinery, admitted it is “...

via Business Feeds

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