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Financial Leaders On a Double-Dip Recession

Karen Minich-Pourshadi, for HealthLeaders Media, September 19, 2011

Are we headed for a double-dip recession? I put that question to hospital and health system chief financial officers at the HealthLeaders CFO Exchange last week, and the response was less than optimistic.

The inaugural CFO Exchange, held in La Jolla, CA, gathered nearly 30 healthcare financial leaders from varying facilities for an opportunity to exchange ideas on how they’re addressing the many healthcare initiatives and challenges they face today.

“Whether it’s a continuing [recession] or a second dip isn’t certain,” says James Doyle, senior vice president and CFO for Elmhurst Memorial Healthcare, a 315-bed, not-for-profit institution in Elmhurst, IL. “The employment situation is a fundamental in [addressing] this problem, and right now there [are] no certainties that the economic situation will create job growth.”

The Business Cycle Dating Committee of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) last year decreed that business activity turned upward in June 2009, officially ending the recession that began in December 2007. The 18-month recession was the longest since World War II, surpassing the two 16-month recessions in 1973-75 and 1981-82, respectively.

Although NBER announced the conclusion of the recession, it did not say that economic conditions had returned to normal capacity, only that a slow recovery had begun. However, the official position on the recession doesn’t necessarily match the opinions of financial leaders.

In early August, CFO magazine surveyed its readers across all industries on the state of the economy. A fifth of respondents felt we were already in another recession and 23% said the economy was headed that direction.

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