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Most CFOs think the U.S. will tumble into recession within a year

Add many of the nation's chief financial officers to those who think the American economy is headed for trouble. A majority, or 53%, of CFOs believe the U.S. will face a recession within a year, according to a new survey by the Duke University Fuqua School of Business.

"In the U.S. the number of CFOs growing more pessimistic outnumbers those growing more optimistic by a five-to-one margin," Duke University Fuqua School of Business professor John Graham said in a video discussing the findings. 

Just over two-thirds of CFOs predict an economic downturn by the end of 2020, the survey also found. Such concerns could spell trouble for President Donald Trump, with other recent polls showing that a growing number of voters think the economy is headed in the wrong direction.

While solid consumer spending and low unemployment continue to buttress the economy, manufacturers are faltering. The sector has been in contraction for two consecutive quarters amid uncertainty due to the U.S. trade conflicts with China and slowing global demand.

Trump downplays recession concerns 03:10

Economic uncertainty is now CFOs' top concern, ahead of the difficulty in finding qualified employees, the survey found. Government policies were the third-biggest concern, followed by data security and weak demand for their companies' products or services.  

On a brighter note, pockets of the labor market remain hot. "Companies continue to want to hire to fill certain job positions," Graham said. "Job titles that have the most opportunity right now include engineers, machine operators, manufacturing technicians, medical technicians and sales." 

The Federal Reserve on Wednesday is expected to lower its benchmark interest rate for the second time this year, after lowering rates in July for the first time since the 2008 financial crisis. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell in July cited global trade tensions and slowing growth overseas as the reasons for trimming the federal funds rate.

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