The first Kauffman Economic Outlook: A Quarterly Survey of Leading Economics Bloggers, released earlier this year, was decidedly gloomy. The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation’s Outlook for the second quarter of 2010 was released last month, and—as you might expect due to the slowly improving economy—the results are somewhat more optimistic.
Still, the results weren't exactly a thunderous round of applause for the economy. Pessimism was a subtext throughout, and even the optimism expressed was muted and cautious.
I'd call it tepid optimism.
Asked the condition of the U.S. economy right now, 59 percent said “mixed.” The rest were evenly divided between positive and negative opinions: 9 percent said “strong and growing;” 14 percent said “strong with uncertain growth:” 14 percent said “facing recession” and 4 percent said “weak and recessing.”
I thought one of the most interesting parts of the survey was the lack of faith in official government statistics. Only about 50 percent of respondents thought that the government statistics accurately reflect the economy. One-third say the economy is “worse than official government statistics show.” Just 14 percent say it is “better.” Remember that the next time someone quotes official statistics to you.
Overall business conditions are rated by the bloggers as “mostly fair, partly bad.” But the group wasn't nearly as positive when it comes to small businesses and startup entrepreneurs:
- More than 50 percent rated conditions for small business as “bad” or “very bad.”
- Entrepreneurs (which the survey defined as startup businesses) fared better: About 20 percent of respondents rated conditions for them “bad” or “very bad” with 60 percent rating them “fair.”
Sixty-three percent of those surveyed believe the federal government is too involved in economic matters. However, the results of a question about what the federal government should do garnered responses that somewhat contradicted this majority.
- 80 percent want to see the creation of a visa for entrepreneurial immigrants.
- 50 percent support increased financial regulation.
- 47 percent want the federal government to “promote new firm formation.”
- Just 10 percent want increased business regulation.
Asked about their overall three-year projections, the bloggers’ consensus was moderate growth in all areas—Gross Domestic Product, employment, inflation and budget deficits. Interest rates were projected to grow the fastest. What’s expected to decline? U.S. competitiveness.
The Kauffman Foundation reached out to more than 200 leading economics bloggers, asking their opinions of the economy, entrepreneurship and innovation.