Equipment Finance Industry Confidence Declines in August

Washington, DC (August 19, 2011) –- Overall confidence in the equipment finance market, measured by the Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation's August 2011 Monthly Confidence Index (MCI-EFI), is 50.0, down from the July index of 56.2, indicating apparent industry reaction to U.S. economic conditions and federal government fiscal management and policies. The MCI-EFI is designed to collect leadership data, and reports a qualitative assessment of both prevailing business conditions and expectations for the future as reported by key executives from the $521 billion equipment finance sector.

When asked about the outlook for the future, survey respondent Russell Nelson, president, Farm Credit Leasing Services Corporation, said, "Pent-up demand for replacement assets and improving conditions in select industries may continue to drive strong results for the remainder of 2011. The key to future business confidence rests with leadership in Washington, D.C., and their ability to craft a budget that Wall Street, Main Street, and the global community view positively."

Survey Results

  • 13.2% of executives responding said they believe business conditions will improve over the next four months, slightly decreased from 14.0% in July. 65.8% of respondents believe business conditions will remain the same over the next four months, a decrease from 81.4% in July. 21.1% of executives believe business conditions will worsen, a sharp increase from 4.7% in July. 
  • 21.1% of survey respondents believe demand for leases and loans to fund capital expenditures (capex) will increase over the next four months, an increase from 14% in July. 57.9% believe demand will "remain the same" during the same four-month time period, a decrease from 74.4% the previous month. 21.1% believe demand will decline, up from 11.6% who believed so in July. 
  • 21.1% of executives expect more access to capital to fund equipment acquisitions over the next four months, down from 23% in July.  73.7% of survey respondents indicate they expect the "same" access to capital to fund business, a decrease from 76.7% the previous month.  5.3% of survey respondents expect "less" access to capital, the first time in nine months any respondents said they expect "less" access to capital.
  • 23.7% of the executives reported they expect to hire more employees over the next four months, down from 32.6% in July.  65.8% expect no change in headcount over the next four months, an increase from 58% last month, while 10.5% expect fewer employees, an increase from 9.6% in July.   
  • 55.3% of the leadership evaluate the current U.S. economy as "fair," down from 72% who did in July.  44.7% rate it as "poor," up from 27.9% last month. 
  • 5.3% of survey respondents believe that U.S. economic conditions will get "better" over the next six months, down from 9.3% in July.  63.2% of survey respondents indicate they believe the U.S. economy will "stay the same" over the next six months, down from 79% in July.  31.6% responded that they believe economic conditions in the U.S. will worsen over the next six months, up from 11.6% who believed so last month.
  • In August, 28.9% of respondents indicate they believe their company will increase spending on business development activities during the next six months, down from 44.2% in July. 68.4% believe there will be "no change" in business development spending, up from 55.8% last month, and 2.6% believe there will be a decrease in spending, up from no one who believed so last month.  

Survey Comments

Depending on the market segment they represent, executives have differing points of view on the current and future outlook for the industry.

Bank, Middle Ticket: "Until such time that the federal government can remove the unpredictability related to taxes and fiscal policy the economy will continue to sputter as the business community will be very cautious with respect to additional investment. This scenario will not bode well for the equipment finance industry."

Independent, Middle Ticket: "Growth is slower than expected but we are seeing some positive signs of larger capital expenditures."

Bank, Small Ticket: "Recent actions in D.C. make our environment very uncertain."

Why an MCI-EFI?

Confidence in the U.S. economy and the capital markets is a critical driver to the equipment finance industry. Throughout history, when confidence increases, consumers and businesses are more apt to acquire more consumer goods, equipment and durables, and invest at prevailing prices. When confidence decreases, spending and risk-taking tend to fall. Investors are said to be confident when the news about the future is good and stock prices are rising.

Who participates in the MCI-EFI?

The respondents are comprised of a wide cross section of industry executives, including large-ticket, middle-market and small-ticket banks, independents and captive equipment finance companies.  The MCI-EFI uses the same pool of 50 organization leaders to respond monthly to ensure the survey's integrity.  Since the same organizations provide the data from month to month, the results constitute a consistent barometer of the industry's confidence.

How is the MCI-EFI designed?

The survey consists of seven questions and an area for comments, asking the respondents' opinions about the following:

  1. Current business conditions
  2. Expected product demand over the next four months
  3. Access to capital over the next four months
  4. Future employment conditions
  5. Evaluation of the current U.S. economy
  6. U.S. economic conditions over the next six months
  7. Business development spending expectations
  8. Open-ended question for comment

MCI-EFI survey results are posted on the foundation website, included in the Foundation Forecast newsletter and included in press releases. Survey respondent demographics and additional information about the MCI are also available at the link above. 

The Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation is a 501c3 non-profit organization that provides vision for the equipment leasing and finance industry through future-focused information and research. Primarily funded through donations, the Foundation is the only organization dedicated to future-oriented, in-depth, independent research for the leasing industry.

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