The second monthly edition of our Accountants Confidence Index shows the profession holding more or less steady in its forecasts for growth. The ACI, created in partnership with ADP, is a new monthly economic indicator that leverages the insights of accountants into the strength and prospects of businesses in the U.S.

The 3-Month ACI reading for this month is exactly the same as last month's, while the 6-Month ACI crept up a fraction.

The results weren't entirely uniform, however: The members of our Executive Research Council actually downgraded the short-term prospects for growth for their own firms, from 59.12 last month to 58.36 this month. And they lowered their forecast for their large business clients even more: from 53.56 down to 52.05. The 418 survey participants still see the U.S. economy contracting a hair in the short-term (down to 47.51, from 48.97 last month), but they upgraded it in the mid-term, expecting a bare whisper of growth over the next six months, at 50.85, up from a contractionary 49.99 last month.

In this month's survey, we also took the opportunity to ask the ERC about some crucial regulatory questions; the results appear below. Perhaps the most interesting finding was that, of those who think that the U.S. needs separate accounting standards for private companies, fully half think that the best form for those standards to take would be a version of GAAP tailored by the Financial Accounting Standards Board - somewhat contradicting claims that the professional overwhelmingly supports a separate standard-setter.

The ACI is created from a monthly poll of the Accounting Today Executive Research Council, an online community of more than one thousand 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.