In this week of stock market volatility and global economic upheaval, I would be remiss if I didn’t share the letter written by The Conference Board Economics department on Monday. In addition to quelling the fears about a second recession and putting the situation in perspective, there is one paragraph that corporate America should pay heed to.
“Perhaps the greatest danger right now is that the current fear of another global recession becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy,” Bart van Ark, chief economist, and Kathy Bostjancic, director of macroeconomic analysis, wrote. “For this reason, coordinated global policy actions that finally move ahead of the curve, as opposed to lagging behind, are needed to show leadership and to halt the current sharp sell-off in financial markets.”
I thought the words, “show leadership,” are quite apt in these trying times. While it seems such leadership is not coming from the divided Congress, it is apparent leadership has to come from the public companies that have a fiduciary duty to their shareholders. That leadership can come in many different ways, but one of the most important would be a constructive dialogue between directors and shareholders. Doing so could go a long way to rebuilding trust in the markets when shareholders need it the most.
As for the letter to Conference Board members, which was made public on Monday, it goes on to give an assessment of the economy and the markets.
The letter states: “Our assessment of the current state of most advanced economies, including the United States and most European countries, is one of weakness and has been so for quite a while. Yet it does not warrant the belief that recession is inevitably around the next corner. At the same time, the market’s assessment of the failing policy environment does pose a serious risk to global financial markets, which can spill over into a further weakening of our economic indicators.
“In our view the risk of recession has increased slightly, but overall it remains low – about a one-in-three chance.”
Further economic analysis is available by visiting The Conference Board Economics web site. The Conference Board offers such regular programs and publications as The Conference Board Economics Watch® report and StraightTalk® , which are available free to certain member companies.