News for Credit Professionals

Economy, Politics Among Credit Professionals’ Top 2012 Concerns

Credit professionals still consider the economy to be their biggest concern for the coming year, according to an annual survey conducted by the National Association of Credit Management (NACM). For the third straight year, when asked “Looking forward to 2012, as a credit professional, what are your biggest concerns?” the largest percentage (26.7%) of the nearly 1,000 participants chose “lingering uncertainties about the still-sluggish economic recovery.” The result was expected, as credit professionals continue to face stagnant business conditions along with an increase in bankruptcy filings, preference actions and customer difficulties.

The top concerns garnering the majority of survey responses included:

- Lingering uncertainties about the still sluggish economic recovery (26.7%)
- Slow payment, delinquencies and general customer creditworthiness (19%)
- Job security, the future of career, or ensuring that salary keeps pace with cost of living (11.7%)

New to this edition of NACM’s annual survey of credit professionals was a deep sense of pessimism tied to the fact that 2012 will be an election year. Just over 11% of respondents listed “election-year politics, and the elections themselves, and their effect on economic growth” as one of their chief concerns for the coming year, and many participants took the opportunity to lament the current state, and future, of American politics in the survey’s comment section.

“The total gridlock of the federal government has the potential to take our, and the world's, economies down. We are on the brink of that happening now and I don't think it would take much to push us over the edge,” said one respondent. “Politics as usual must come to a halt. Somehow, a spirit of compromise must happen so we can fix the economy and put people back to work. It is my perception that even if people have jobs and can afford to buy, they aren't spending because of the pervasive negativity and uncertainty around the world.”

As bad as things currently appear on Capitol Hill, many survey participants noted that they only expected things to deteriorate further as the 2012 campaign season ramps up. “I think there will be way too much concern and feelings of uncertainty over the presidential race next November,” they said. “Instead of political parties working together on solutions for economic recovery, I'm afraid too much [attention] will be paid to whose party will win.”

“Our leaders aren’t focusing on fixing the problems,” one respondent summarized.

While some participants suggested that political gridlock is causing the nation’s economic turmoil, others noted that it’s merely exacerbating what’s already a bad situation. “I’m concerned that the customers who have struggled to hold on won’t be able to last much longer,” said one respondent. “This, coupled with the nonsense we deal with from the feds and the pending election…is making things that much more unpredictable.”

Ultimately, this translates to what credit professionals believe will be a protracted economic slump. “I don’t see things improving until possibly the beginning of 2013, if at all,” said one participant. “This could be a long downturn.”

NACM has a wealth of member experts in the fields of business-to-business credit and law. Consider using NACM as a resource in the development of your next credit or finance story.