President Obama recently implored American business leaders to “get in the game” by spending trillions of dollars in corporate cash reserves on investments that would spur the economy. But he may have been preaching to the proverbial choir.
After years of stockpiling cash in the wake of the 2008 financial collapse, American businesses appear poised to do just what the President requested: invest and create jobs. Consider the latest NACD Board Confidence Index (BCI), in which a majority of directors forecast that their companies will expand their current workforce in 2011. This is a significant development in what has been, in many key respects, a lethargic economic recovery.
Even after the economy began emerging from the depths of the recession in 2009, American corporate leaders remained fearful of another downturn, prompting companies to safeguard their cash reserves, now estimated to be about $2 trillion. That, of course, has contributed to a mixed economic picture today: many companies, while profitable, are unwilling to make the kind of large-scale investments that would put millions of unemployed Americans back on the payroll.
But as the NACD BCI for Q4 2010 suggests, the widespread fear of a double-digit recession appears to be over, with many corporate directors saying that they see the prospect of continued economic growth over the next year.
Now is the time for directors to begin looking at what best practices their companies should be putting in place to help position them for growth in the year ahead—whether those policies focus on compensation, ethics, accountability or competence.