Survey of Business Uncertainty
In partnership with Steven Davis of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and Nicholas Bloom of Stanford University, the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta has created the Atlanta Fed/Chicago Booth/Stanford Survey of Business Uncertainty (SBU). This innovative panel survey measures the one-year-ahead expectations and uncertainties that firms have about their own employment, capital investment, and sales. The sample covers all regions of the U.S. economy, every industry sector except agriculture and government, and a broad range of firm sizes.
Dave Altig is executive vice president and director of research at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. In addition to advising the Bank president on monetary policy and related matters, Dr. Altig oversees the Bank's regional executives and the Bank's research department. He also serves as a member of the Bank's management and discount committees. He leads the Atlanta Fed's macroblog, which provides commentary on economic topics, including monetary policy, macroeconomic developments, and the Southeast economy.
Jose Maria Barrero
Jose Maria Barrero is an Assistant Professor of Finance at Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México, where he conducts empirical and quantitative research in macroeconomics and finance, focusing on firm behavior under uncertainty. He joined the SBU research team while he was a PhD student at Stanford University. He holds a BA in Economics and Mathematics from the University of Pennsylvania and an MA and PhD in Economics from Stanford University.
Nicholas (Nick) Bloom
Nick Bloom is a professor of economics at Stanford University and a codirector of the Productivity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship program at the National Bureau of Economic Research. His research focuses on management practices and uncertainty. He previously worked at the U.K. Treasury and McKinsey & Company. He holds a bachelor's degree from Cambridge University, a master's degree from Oxford University, and a PhD from University College London.
Steven J. Davis
Steven J. Davis is a professor of economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. His research focuses on labor market outcomes, business performance, economic fluctuations, and uncertainty. He is an elected fellow of the Society of Labor Economists, former editor of the American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, economic adviser to the U.S. Congressional Budget Office, and senior fellow with the Asian Bureau of Finance and Economics Research. He is also a co-creator of the Economic Policy Uncertainty Indices, and he co-organizes the Asian Monetary Policy Forum, held annually in Singapore. Davis received a PhD in economics from Brown University in 1986 and joined the Booth faculty in 1985.
Brent Meyer is an policy adviser and economist in the research department at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. His primary research interests include firm behavior, survey methods, inflation, inflation expectations, macroeconomics, and monetary policy. In addition to providing monetary policy support, Meyer heads up our Economic Survey Research Center (ESRC), is involved in research using our Business Inflation Expectations (BIE), Survey of Business Uncertainty (SBU), and CFO surveys, contributes to the Atlanta Fed's Inflation Project, and to the Atlanta Fed's macroblog, which provides commentary on economic topics, including monetary policy, macroeconomic developments, and the Southeast economy. Meyer earned a bachelor's degree in economics from Hillsdale College and a master's degree in economics from Bowling Green State University.
Nicholas Parker is survey director in the Research Department at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. He works primarily on business survey design and methodology, including questionnaire design, cognitive testing, and usability testing as well as the analysis and communication of survey results to policymakers, researchers, and the general public. He also provides methodological and analytical support for other data collection efforts, including those conducted by the Atlanta Fed's Regional Economic Information Network. Parker earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Tampa and continues to pursue graduate studies in survey methodology and data science at the Joint Program in Survey Methodology at the University of Maryland.
Michael Bryan was a vice president and senior economist in the research department of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, where he was responsible for organizing the Atlanta Fed’s monetary policy process. He came to the Atlanta Fed in 2008, and retired from there in 2016. Before coming to Atlanta, Bryan was at the Cleveland Fed, where he had spent 30 years in positions of increasing responsibility. Bryan is currently serving on the faculty of the University of South Carolina.
Lead Panel Coordinators
About the Survey
Why do we conduct this survey?
The SBU elicits a 5-point probability distribution over 12-month-ahead sales, employment, and capital expenditures for each firm. It also elicits current values of these quantities. The survey's innovative design allows the calculation of each firm's expected growth rate over the next year and its degree of uncertainty about its expectations. Policy makers and researchers can use SBU data to help forecast economic activity and better understand how business expectations and uncertainty affect employment, sales, investment, and other economic outcomes.
The Survey of Business Uncertainty Partnership
The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta fields the Survey of Business Uncertainty in partnership with Steven Davis of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and Nick Bloom of Stanford University. Davis and Bloom are the creators of the Economic Policy Uncertainty (EPU) indices and experts in the field.
For Technical Information about the SBU
Please consult "Surveying Business Uncertainty" by David Altig, Jose Maria Barrero, Nicholas Bloom, Mike Bryan, Steven J. Davis, Brent H. Meyer, and Nicholas Parker. Additional information about the methods used for the survey can be found in the accompanying slide deck.
Sample Survey Forms
Each survey form below goes to about one-third of the panel members each month. A given panel member will receive each of the three forms over the course of three months. In addition to the core survey questions posed in the forms below, we typically ask at least one special question each month.
Survey Release Dates
The Survey of Business Uncertainty will be released by 11 a.m. ET on the following dates:
- January 29, 2020
- February 26, 2020
- March 25, 2020
- April 29, 2020
- May 27, 2020
- June 24, 2020
- July 29, 2020
- August 26, 2020
- September 30, 2020
- October 28, 2020
- November 25, 2020
- December 30, 2020
About the Panel
Technical information about the SBU
- "Surveying Business Uncertainty" by David Altig, Jose Maria Barrero, Nicholas Bloom, Mike Bryan, Steven J. Davis, Brent H. Meyer, and Nicholas Parker
- Additional information about the methods used for the survey
- "Firms Expect Working from Home to Triple," May 28, 2020
- "U.S. Firms Foresee Intensifying Coronavirus Impact," May 4, 2020
- "COVID-19 Caused 3 New Hires for Every 10 Layoffs," May 1, 2020
- "American Firms Foresee a Huge Negative Impact of the Coronavirus," March 23, 2020
- "New Evidence Points to Mounting Trade Policy Effects on U.S. Business Activity," November 1, 2019
- "Tariff Worries and U.S. Business Investment, Take Two," February 25, 2019
- "Are Tariff Worries Cutting into Business Investment?" August 7, 2018
- "What Are Businesses Saying about Tax Reform Now?" March 23, 2018
- "What Businesses Said about Tax Reform," January 17, 2018
Related surveys and data:
SBU in the Media
- Theo Francis and Thomas Gryta. "U.S. Firms Pull Back on Investment," The Wall Street Journal, November 24, 2019.
- John D. Stoll. "Hey CEOs, Have You Hugged the Uncertainty Monster Lately?," The Wall Street Journal, September 14, 2019.
- Rebecca Stropoli. "Executive surveys forecast business outcomes," Chicago Booth Review, September 10, 2019.
- Steven J. Davis. "Trade policy is upending markets—but not investment," Chicago Booth Review, March 18, 2019.
- "US private sector cuts $32.5b capital spending due to tariff, trade tensions: Survey," China Daily, February 27, 2019.
- William Mauldin. "Tariff Fears Led U.S. Manufacturers to Trim Spending," The Wall Street Journal, February 26, 2019.
- James Mackintosh. "Trading on Uncertainty About Tariffs," Wall Street Journal, December 4, 2018.
- Steven J. Davis. "Trump's trade-policy uncertainty deters investment," Chicago Booth Review, November 14, 2018.
- Steve Matthews. "Tariffs Prompt U.S. Manufacturers to Review Plans: Fed Survey," Bloomberg, August 7, 2018.