CEOs less optimistic about global economy for 2015

Fewer Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) than last year think global economic growth will improve over the next 12 months, though confidence in their ability to achieve revenue growth in their own companies remains stable, the PwC’s 18th Annual Global CEO Survey has shown.

Results of the survey in which more than 1,300 CEOs were interviewed were released at the opening of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

In it the CEOs are less optimistic about global growth prospects than a year ago, with 37% of CEOs thinking global economic growth will improve in 2015.

This is down from 44% last year. Significantly, 17% of CEOs believe global economic growth will decline, more than twice as many as a year ago (7%). The remaining 44% expect economic conditions to remain steady.

Regionally, the results show wide variations. CEOs in Asia Pacific are the most optimistic about the global economy with 45% anticipating improvement, followed by the Middle East (44%) and North America (37%).

On the other hand, only 16% of CEOs in Central and Eastern Europe expect economic improvement. CEOs in emerging economies like India (59%), China (46%) and Mexico (42%) are more optimistic about the economy than those in developed economies like the US (29%) and Germany (33%).

Despite the overall declining outlook for the global economy, CEOs remain confident about prospects for their own company; 39% worldwide said they are ‘very confident’ their company’s revenues will grow in the next 12 months. That’s the same as last year; though up slightly from 36% in 2013.

CEOs in the Asia Pacific region (45%) are most confident of revenue growth, about the same as last year. The Middle East is still one of the most optimistic regions with 44% of CEOs very confident of revenue growth, although this is down markedly from last year’s 69%.

CEO confidence in growth is higher in North America, rising to 43% from 33%. CEOs in Western Europe (31%) and Central and Eastern Europe (30%) are least optimistic about their company’s growth prospects.

Looking country by country, India’s CEOs top the list, with 62% very confident in their short-term growth prospects. Other leading countries include Mexico (50%), the US (46%), Australia (43%) the UK and South Africa (39%), China (36%), Germany (35%) and Brazil (30%).

Among the least confident countries are France (23%), Venezuela (22%), Italy (20%), Argentina (17%) and, at the bottom of the list, Russia, with only 16% of CEOs very confident of revenue growth for 2015. This is down from 53% last year when Russia’s CEOs were the most confident in the world.

Commenting on the survey results, Dennis M. Nally, Chairman of PricewaterhouseCoopers International, says:

“The world is facing significant challenges: economically, politically and socially. CEOs overall remain cautious in their near-term outlook for the worldwide economy, as well as for growth prospects for their own companies. While some mature markets like the US appear to be rebounding, others like the Eurozone continue to struggle. And while some emerging economies continue to expand rapidly, others are slowing. Finding the right strategic balance to sustain growth in this changing marketplace remains a challenge.

“CEO confidence is down notably in oil-producing nations around the world as a result of plummeting crude oil prices. Russia CEOs, for example, were the most confident in last year’s survey, but are the least confident this year. Confidence also slipped among CEOs in the Middle East, Venezuela, and Nigeria”. GNA

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