Projected deficits in the next two decades are more threatening to economic growth than the current deficit, most business economists say, but they diverge on the best way to address the problem. Meanwhile association executives have never been more optimistic about the economy.
According to the August 2013 economic policy survey conducted by the National Association of Business Economists, an overwhelming majority of the participating panelists believe that the projected deficits over the next few decades represent a principal challenge facing the nation: 43 percent believe the projected deficits in 2020s and 2030s are too large, while 37 percent the deficit over the next 10 years will be too large. Only 12 percent believe the current deficit is too large.
The panelists split over the best way to address these projections: 39 percent say a mix of spending restraint and increased revenues, while 32 percent favor greater spending restraint. Twenty percent believe policies encouraging economic growth is the best tactic.
Association executives have a cheerier outlook for the short term. According to the TRENDS 2013 Spring Association PULSE Report, association executives’ confidence in the U.S. economy rebounded to 64.6 on The Confidence Index, the highest that number has been in PULSE’s five-year history. The Confidence Index is calculated by adding the percentage of positive responses to one half the percentage of neutral responses for the respondents’ current mood. A score of 50 suggests neutrality; anything above or below 50, optimism and pessimism respectively.
Association executives also are optimistic about their members' profession, scoring a 67.4 on the index. This also represents the closest these two gauges have been in the PULSE's five-year history. This is despite only 45 percent of association executives reporting that industry sales/shipments are up from last year, with 33 percent reporting even and 22 percent reporting they are down.