"Economists less optimistic as early 2012 gains wither"
Economists say the sales and profit gains of early this year are disappearing, and they are increasingly pessimistic about short-term growth.
They also are gloomy because of the potential impact in the U.S. from Europe's financial crisis, the possible expiration of the Bush tax cuts in December, and the prospect of major cuts in federal spending.
A survey by the National Association for Business Economics released Monday also found less evidence of hiring, confirming the trend in recent monthly jobs reports from the government.
In the quarterly survey of 67 economists who work for companies or industry trade groups, 22 percent reported rising employment in July, down from about 30 percent in the last three surveys and 42 percent a year ago. On the positive side, only 9 percent said employment was falling. The rest said it was unchanged.
Just 39 percent of the economists surveyed reported rising sales at their companies in July, down from 60 percent in April. There was a similar trend on corporate profit margins, with 29 percent reporting rising margins in July, compared with 40 percent in April.
"The survey results suggest worsening economic conditions," said Nayantara Hensel, a business professor at National Defense University who analyzed the results for NABE. "The rising sales and profit margins experienced earlier in the year may have been short-lived." . . .