ELFF: Industry Execs Wary over Political Uncertainty

The release of the June 2016 Monthly Confidence Index from the Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation revealed that confidence in the industry eased for the second consecutive month, falling to 52.3 from the 55.1 mark recorded in May.

Uncertainty about the November election and its impact on the U.S. economy were among respondents’ concerns.

“Increased consumer spending and confidence indications create some level of optimism, but 2016 capital investment will be heavily impacted by the uncertainty caused by the November election,” said Robert Boyer, president of Susquehanna Commercial Finance.

When asked to assess their business conditions over the next four months, 9.4% of executives responding said they believe business conditions will improve over the next, a decrease from 16.1% in May. Meanwhile, 68.8% of respondents believe business conditions will remain the same, an increase from 67.7% in May, and 21.9% believe business conditions will worsen, an increase from 16.1% the previous month.

“Rates remain low, capital is abundant, and credit appetites appear to be widening—all good news for would-be borrowers,” said Valerie Hayes Jester of president, Brandywine Capital Associates. “On the other hand, we are experiencing a political environment that seems circus-like and a nation that is being rocked by threats of terrorism. We do not expect to see small and mid-size businesses choosing to expand and invest with certainty. I believe the rest of this year will see a reasonable flow of business, but I’m not expecting a strong close to 2016.”

There was a larger decrease in the number of respondents who believe demand for leases and loans to fund capital expenditures will increase in the next four months, falling to 6.3% in June from 16.1% in May.

Keeping the theme of decreasing confidence, 15.6% of executives expect more access to capital to fund equipment acquisitions over the next four months, a decrease from 19.4% in May. However, only 3.1% expect less access to capital, a decrease from 6.5% last month.

Hiring may slow in the next four months as 37.5% of the executives reported that they expect to hire more employees over the next four months, a decrease from 48.4% in May. Additionally, 6.3% expect to hire fewer employees, an increase from 3.2% in May.

There was little change in confidence in the U.S. economy, with 96.9% of respondents evaluating the current status as fair, unchanged from May, while 75% indicated that they believe the U.S. economy will stay the same over the next six months.

In June, 31.3% of respondents indicated that they believe their company will increase spending on business development activities during the next six months, a decrease from 38.7% in May. However, no respondents gave an indication that there will be a decrease in spending.

“Abundant liquidity, which increases competition and lowers spreads, is still the biggest story in our industry,” said Paul Menzel, president and CEO of Financial Pacific Leasing. “The presidential election will keep a damper on economic expansion through the remainder of the year.”

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