At least for now, a green-shoots mentality seems to be taking hold regarding a post-pandemic recovery. Lockdowns are starting to ease, certain beaten-down sectors—such as airlines and hotels—are showing signs of life, and equity markets are rising (though skeptics say stock prices are getting ahead of themselves).

There has been much speculation about which alphabet letter will embody the economic recovery  (e.g., “V,” “U,” “L” or “W”), but a recent survey from the CFA Institute found the vast majority of its members who responded believe it will be anywhere from two to five years before the economy shifts into high gear.

The CFA Institute is a global association of investment management professionals that certifies and administers the chartered financial analyst designation. It recently surveyed its members regarding the current coronavirus crisis and its impact on the economy, the financial markets and the investment management industry. 

The organization will release the full survey at a later date, but it gave a sneak preview with data pertaining to the economy. Specifically, nearly 80% of survey respondents foresee a slow or stagnant recovery in the short-term before gaining steam in the medium term.

Among that larger group, 44% envision a hockey stick-shaped recovery that implies a static economy for two to three years before experiencing a steady ascent. Another 35% expect a U-shaped recovery marked by a three- to five-year period of slow, subdued economic activity before an acceleration phase kicks in.

On the optimistic side, 10% of respondents expect a quick and strong V-shaped recovery. On the pessimistic side, 4% are Negative Neds with their belief there won’t be a real recovery and that long-term stagnation is on the horizon.

As noted by the CFA Institute, there are two camps within the broader financial/economic sphere regarding potential outcomes for the economy following the unprecedented global lockdown that closed both borders and businesses. On one side are CEOs in certain sectors—such as technology and banking—who expect a speedy and steady recovery. On the other side are various international organizations, institutional economists and central bankers who forecast a significant recession that will negatively impact economic fundamentals and make the recovery a slow and difficult process.

Olivier Fines, CFA, head of advocacy EMEA for the CFA Institute, said in a press release that the lockdown “has brought significant pain to the global economy and challenges the foundations of capital markets. The question will, therefore, become how long can the economy sustain such radical measures before it gets structurally and irreparably damaged?"

The CFA Institute’s survey was conducted during the latter half of April and contains responses from 13,278 of its members, or a total response rate of 8%.