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US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin: CEOs are bullish on America

Brian Sozzi

Don’t buy too much into the mixed assessment of the U.S. economy spewed by some top executives during the World Economic Forum, says U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

“In all the meetings I hear, the U.S. is really the bright spot of economic growth for 2020,” Mnuchin told Yahoo Finance at a press briefing on Thursday at the World Economic Forum. Mnuchin said he has met 150-200 top business leaders while on the ground this week at Davos.

Mnuchin — who Yahoo Finance asked why CEOs have told us they remain hesitant to invest aggressively in new plants and people ahead of the presidential election — added, “I haven’t heard that at all, I have met with a large number of international CEOs. People still have concerns about Europe and Asia.”

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin attends a session at the Congres center during the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, on January 21, 2020. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP) (Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images)

Yahoo Finance has spoken with countless top CEOs and other executives at WEF this week. While the tone around growth in the U.S. is improved, most executives have cited only a modest acceleration in their businesses from late last year into 2020. Executives have voiced concerns around trade policy with China and Europe, and the upcoming presidential election as reasons to continue to invest cautiously in capital goods.

That dovetails with some dour reads by CEOs on the U.S. economy in the lead up to WEF.

According to a new survey released by PwC, CEOs are growing increasingly pessimistic, with 53% anticipating a decline in economic growth in 2020. The firm interviewed 1,600 CEOs across 83 countries.

To put that figure in perspective, it was just a year ago when CEOs expressed record levels of optimism about the economy. At the time, 57% responded that gross domestic GDP growth would improve and only 29% expressing pessimism about future economic growth. In 2020, only 22% of CEOs project there will be a rise in the rate of economic growth in 2020.  

Yahoo Finance’s Julia La Roche contributed to this story.

Watch Yahoo Finance’s full live network coverage of the 50th Annual World Economic Forum from January 21-24 here.

Sozzi is an editor-at-large and co-anchor of The First Trade at Yahoo Finance. Watch The First Trade each day here at 9:00 a.m. ET. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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