U.S. CEO confidence baffled by Trump's trade wars

A group of U.S. chief executives criticized President Donald Trump's trade wars on Wednesday after the release of a CEO economic outlook survey.

The newly released survey by the Business Roundtable, a lobbying group for American blue-chip companies, showed the CEO confidence in the economy has eroded for five straight quarters.

At an event hosted by the group in Washington, regarding tariffs, Jamie Dimon, chairman and chief executive Officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co. and chairman of Business Roundtable, commented that the direct effect of further trade tariffs will be negative, hurt business confidence, and level up the risk of a downturn, Bloomberg reported.

Echoing Dimon's thoughts, Cummins Inc. CEO Tom Linebarger added that the burden of tariffs now exceeds the benefits of Trump's tax cuts, and removing tariffs could help the U.S. economy avoid a slowdown.

"It's a large number, and we're the ones now paying China import tariffs," Linebarger said. "If those tariffs are removed it's another tax cut essentially, back down to where we were with the tax reform act."

Jamie Dimon, chairman and chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co. /VCG Photo

Jamie Dimon, chairman and chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co. /VCG Photo

Dimon also showed his concerns on that the impact would go beyond the relatively small direct cost for the world's largest economy and affect business sentiment and investment, if the administration increased tariffs on a further 300 billion U.S. dollars in imports from China as Trump has threatened.

Tariffs may lead to an unwanted outcome

According to the Business Roundtable, the data of CEO Economic Outlook are based on a survey of 127 CEOs conducted from May 16 to June 3, when tensions escalated in U.S. relations with China and Mexico, which are the largest two trading partners of the U.S.

The CEO Economic Outlook Index showed a fall of 5.7 points in the second quarter to 89.5 – the lowest since the fourth quarter of 2016. Each of the sections of the survey results reflected more pessimism in the American corporate economy. Employment decreased by 5.2 points to 75.2, while capital spending fell by 2.9 points to 88.1. Meanwhile, expectations for sales fell 8.9 points to 105.1.