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CFOs haven’t been this upbeat about the global economy since 2018: CNBC survey

  • Chief financial officers expect the global economic recovery to continue in 2021.
  • CFOs say the bull market in stocks will continue and the Dow more likely to rise to 35,000 than suffer a correction.
  • There are reasons for concern, from Covid variants and cases rising, to potential corporate tax hikes and tensions between the U.S. and China.

In the U.S., a consumer that represents 70% of the economy is seen as key to a continued recovery, and confidence surged in March to its highest level since the pandemic began.cihatatceken | iStock | Getty Images

Covid cases and variants are rising, but in the race between the vaccines and virus, chief financial officers of major corporations are betting the pandemic will be the loser and the global economic recovery remain on track in 2021.

The CNBC Global CFO Council survey for Q1 2021 shows a level of economic confidence from chief financial officers across the globe that hasn't been this high since 2018, and fears of the risk from Covid to their business outlook cut in half from just a quarter ago. 

In the U.S. specifically, more CFOs are now citing cybersecurity as the biggest risk to their business than Covid.

The CFO sentiment has become more positive on every global region, with no region described as "declining" in Q1 2021, the first time that has happened since Q4 2018.

"Vaccines and fiscal stimulus have given us a much needed shot of adrenaline in what has become a marathon of a pandemic," said Diane Swonk, chief economist at Grant Thornton. "What was a headwind, will rapidly become a tailwind, with the U.S. leading overall global gains. That is something to embrace."

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