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Business confidence positive among concerns the recovery may stall

Following the release of the September 2001 Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry National Survey of Business Expectations, the ACCI's greatest concern is that Australia's economic recovery will stall, with results only showing improvement because the data is less negative than in the previous quarter.

The survey indicates a considerable turnaround in business confidence in the national economy, which is supported in improvements in actual conditions within individual firms. Expectations are for a marked upturn in sales revenue, export growth, profitability and employment.

Mark Paterson, Chief Executive of the ACCI, said although the survey revealed that the economy was on the mend, turning upwards was not the same as having achieved recovery, as the economy was still in a weakened state and all too often outcomes did not match expectations. The survey showed that the only positive indicator was investment, which stood at 4.8, well above the -5 recorded in the previous quarter. Other important indicators were negative, although showing improvement. These included:

  • net balance for general business conditions stands at -8.8, up from -17.3 in the previous quarter; and

  • employment stands at -3.3, up from -5.5 in the previous quarter.

Paterson said the results showed an economy moving towards recovery, but in the midst of inauspicious circumstances, including the possibility of a major international slowdown. He said that when the Reserve Bank of Australia meets tomorrow it should closely examine the precedent set by the Bank of England of lowering interest rates to entrench economic growth during a dangerously unsettled period.

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