For the second month in a row, our Accountants Confidence Index indicated a contraction in the coming three months -- and for the first time, it indicated a contraction over the next six, as well.

The ACI, created in partnership with ADP, is a monthly economic indicator that leverages the insights of accountants into the strength and prospects of businesses in the U.S. Both the 3-Month and 6-Month ACI readings for this month were down from July, and both were below 50, at 47.18 and 49.48, respectively.

A reading under 50 indicates that the panel expects a contraction.

Interestingly, while the panelists were gloomy about the growth prospects of just about all sizes of clients, and of the economy as a whole (where they indicated that they expect a fairly significant short-term contraction), they actually reported higher expectations of growth for their own firms from last month.

The ACI is created from a monthly poll of the Accounting Today Executive Research Council, an online community of more than 1,500 tax and accounting professionals, who are asked to provide their estimates of the growth prospects of their own firms, their small, midsized and large business clients, and of the U.S. economy as a whole. Their responses are weighted and averaged to produce the ACI.