The Skinny blog is written by Rick Smith, editor and co-founder of WRAL Tech Wire and business editor of

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – Gas prices are soaring, employment remains weak, the European debt crisis continues but consumer confidence is up and chief marketing officers are optimistic about the state of economy at a percentage not seen in two years.

So reports the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) survey from Duke’s Fuqua School of Business.

On a scale of 0-100 with 100 being the perfect score, CMOs’ optimism came in at 63.4. That’s an 11-point jump since the previous survey in August of last year and a 16-point increase from February 2009 when the economy was unraveling.

Duke notes: “The optimists outweighed the pessimists 8 to 1.”

That’s good – but ask yourself this: If CMOs aren’t excited, who the heck would be?

The Skinny will get more excited about the overall economic landscape when chief financial officers decide to unlock the corporate vaults and start hiring.

But at least the 269 CMOs in the survey offer a glimmer of hope.

“CMOs have strong confidence in the underlying customer dynamics central to any economic recovery,” said Christine Moorman, a marketing professor at Fuqua who runs the CMO Survey. “They predict an increase in the number of customers entering markets, purchase volume and likelihood of buying a range of related offerings from companies. These figures paint a very positive view of the economic landscape.”

Moorman notes that the CMOs are more excited about their own firms with a score of 72.8.

What’s driving the optimism: International sales, Moorman said.

In 2012, 32.4 percent of the CMOs expect out-of-U.S. sales to grow.

That compares to 24.7 percent last August and 18.7 percent in August 2010.

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