Economic trends from a business point of view (August 2023)

“There’s No Time Like The Present” Main economic trends in August 2023 based on the results of the New Monthly Enterprises Survey, #NRES

On September 11, 2023, the Institute for Economic Research and Policy Consulting (IER) held an online event “Economic Trends from a Business Perspective (August 2023)” within the framework of the project “Support to the Public Initiative “For Fair and Transparent Customs”.

During the event, the results of the 16th monthly survey of business executives “Ukrainian Business during the war”, which was conducted in August 2023, were presented.

Despite the high level of long-term uncertainty and the increase in short-term uncertainty, business performance has improved and business expectations remain high and rising again, according to the main result of the 16th NRES Monthly Company Survey. “Our results show that the business has practically divided into two groups, some have changed their development strategy to a wait-and-see one, while the other group, on the contrary, has adapted well to the conditions and is actively recovering,” said Oksana Kuziakiv, executive director of the IER and head of the IER-Center for Research of Modern Society.

The share of respondents who could not answer what will happen to business activity at the enterprise in two years decreased from 55.0% in July to 56.4% in August. At the same time, among those who have decided on the future in 2 years, the share of optimists (those who plan to expand their activities) decreased from 25.9% to 23.1%, and the share of those who do not plan changes increased from 68.2% to 69.2%, which is also a signal of uncertainty.

Assessments of the current financial and economic situation at the enterprise and the general economic environment have improved, but expectations in the 6-month perspective become somewhat more restrained. But the level of optimism (the difference between “optimists” and “pessimists”) remains quite high.  The share of “optimists” decreased from 44.4% to 43%, and the share of pessimists increased from 4.8% to 6.6% when assessing the financial and economic situation at the enterprise over the next six months. Expectations about the general economic situation have not changed, in August, as well as in July, 44% of respondents expect an improvement in the general economic environment, and only 6.4% predict its deterioration.

In the short term, optimism is growing. Production expectations have improved after four consecutive months of “stagnant” optimism. In August, compared to July, the share of enterprises that planned to increase production in the next 3-4 months increased from 44.2% to 47.6%). The share of companies that planned to reduce production remained almost unchanged (4.0% in July and 3.9% in August).

Price growth continues to top the headwinds, but the value of this obstacle decreased by 10 percentage points. The labor shortage has moved from 3rd to 5th place. The decline in demand returned to the top three, rising from 5th to 3rd place on the list, sharing it with the “supply chain disruption” category.

The results of the survey recorded an increase in the shortage of skilled labor, so the obstacle of labor shortage as a result of conscription and/or departure of employees moved to the 3rd position in the ranking of obstacles to doing business, and the % of enterprises that reported an increase in difficulties in finding qualified workers increased from 25.4% to 27.5%.

The end of the war is the main expected event of the surveyed businesses, 75% of enterprises reported this. At the same time, the importance of the “pre-war” expected changes in the business climate is growing. Thus, from 31% (in January 2023) to 40% in August 2023, the share of respondents who would expect “simplification of legal requirements for business” has increased. “This indicates that adaptation to wartime conditions (among other things) brings unresolved ‘pre-war’ and ‘traditional’ business climate issues back on the agenda,” said Yevhen Angel, Senior Research Fellow at the IER.

For reference: The field stage of the 16th wave lasted from August 15 to 31, 2023. Business executives compared the results of work in August with July 2023, assessed the value of the indicator at the time of the survey (August 2023) and gave forecasts for the next 3 or 6 months, depending on the question. In some issues, the results of the work were compared with the pre-war time (the period until February 24, 2022).

✅ Other survey results in the presentation:

thumbnail of NRES_August_2023_en_FINAL_F

✅ Video presentation: https://bit.ly/3ZfuGQU

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