Bankers are losing their bullishness about an economic turnaround. Whereas 45% of bank executives though the economy was on the right track six months ago, a new survey by Grant Thornton and Bank Director magazine found that only 15% of bankers now think the economy will improve in the next six months. At 60%, most bankers think things will stay the same.

“Banking executives had high hopes of improvement in May and they just haven’t seen it,” says Nichole Jordan, national banking and securities industry leader at Grant Thornton in New York. “What they have seen in low corporate and consumer confidence, a depressed commercial real-estate market, concerning new regulations and tax increases.”

That said, only half of bankers say they don’t believe this will be a double-dip recession. For those bankers who feel otherwise, most point the finger at government spending and unemployment as the causes, joint firsts at 35% (respondents could pick more than one answer), with the European debt crisis and the Gulf oil spill distant third and fourth, 15% and 3%, respectively.

On the plus side, only 17% said their bank will cut staff in the next six months, while 60% said they’ll maintain headcount and 23% said they’re hiring. However, this is more likely to be in reaction to increased compliance rather than expectations of an uptick in business, Jordan says.


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