Business leaders are upbeat about their prospects for growth in the coming year and that is good news for the economy.

More than half, 56 per cent, expect to authorise more capital expenditure - just 12 per cent expect to spend less.

Similar numbers expect to increase staff as opposed to cutting back.

The levels of confidence spike even higher on expectations around technology investment, where two-thirds expect to spend more, and on revenue and profit growth.


Those last two may just reflect a healthy degree of optimism about their own business operations, but some 75 per cent of respondents expect to see profits grow in the next 12 months and 82 per cent expect revenues to grow.

That kind of positivity is hard to ignore.

The broad confidence about the business outlook fits with other economic indicators including high level expectations that solid growth can be maintained for at least a couple more years.

In his final speech last month, outgoing Reserve Bank Governor Graeme Wheeler outlined strong prospects for the New Zealand economy.

"In the absence of major unanticipated shocks, prospects look promising for continued robust economic growth in New Zealand over the next two years," Wheeler said. "The greatest risk we face at this stage relates to the inflated global asset prices and the continuing build up in global debt."

In other words we're in good shape but need to stay prepared. Sooner or later the New Zealand economy always gets walloped by an external shock.

There is certainly a sense that this is the right time to invest in the future. The kind of extended period of economic stability we are seeing is a rare thing.

Already there are those in the investment community raising concerns about equity bubbles and pondering when we may see the next financial crisis.

Part of that may just be timing.

We're now a decade on from the credit crunch and the start of the global financial crisis. We're also approaching the 30-year anniversary of the 1987 crash.

With both Wall Street and the local NZX-50 on historically long bull runs and still breaking records it is not surprising some old investment hands are pinching themselves.

This view comes through in the global risks identified by business leaders in the Mood of the Boardroom survey.

They are definitely more nervous about the global economy than they are about the local economy.

On the local front the biggest risks identified are all what could be described as growing pains.

Auckland congestion and inadequate transport infrastructure top the list of domestic concerns.

Time stuck in traffic is clearly being seen as a direct cost and a drain on productivity for many businesses.

Other domestic pressures that were rated "concerning" included growth pressures in Auckland, housing unaffordability and labour and skills shortages.

These concerns all point to an economy starting to bump up against capacity constraints.

But one can almost hear the voice of Finance Minister Steven Joyce already, pointing out that if you are going to have problems, then these are the right kind to have.

Globally though things look more serious with issues such as nuclear war, terrorism, protectionism, and Donald Trump's presidency, all featuring as major concerns.

Ultimately, cyber security comes through as the number one concern - perhaps driven by publicity about highly disruptive ransomware attacks that spread out of North Korea in May and the Ukraine in June.

The Chinese economy also features as a concern for many business leaders and, in conjunction with fears about Trump, US trade border taxes and protectionism, it offers a reminder of just how vulnerable New Zealand is to a trade war.

Regardless, when we look at the sphere of business over which we have some control, it seems clear the mood in the boardroom is relatively upbeat.

Business leaders see an opportunity to invest for growth now while the going is good.

In a sense, business appears to be moving into a more expansive mode in tandem with Government. Whether it's Labour or National-led, we are going to see economic stimulus based on the campaign trail promises so far.

That more-expansion, strategic view, with a focus on investment, may even be influencing the political outlook of some - making them more open to the prospects of a change in government.

Nine years in, National risks looking tired. They still have natural allies in the business world but the challenge for Bill English and Joyce is to convince them they have refreshed their suite of policies and aren't just set to cruise control.

For Labour the challenge with business is always to reassure on economic management.

An appetite for fiscal stimulus there may be, but big spending promises, new taxes and regulation that wraps business in red tape is unlikely to sit well in the boardroom.

But if Grant Robertson can convince people that Labour is still a party of economic growth, then we could be in for a very tight race on September 23.

The Herald's Mood of the Boardroom 2017 Election Survey attracted participation from 118 respondents. The results were debated this morning by shadow finance spokesman Grant Robertson and National's Finance Minister Steven Joyce.