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‘Most CEOs attending WEF pessimistic on 2020 economic growth’

(AP-Yonhap)
(AP-Yonhap)

A majority of corporate honchos attending the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, have given the thumbs down to global economic growth this year, a survey by global accounting and consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers showed Tuesday.

Over 50 percent of the corporate leaders have lowered their forecast for this year’s global economic growth pace, amid lingering uncertainties such as excessive regulations and the prolonged US-China trade war.

The survey conducted between September and October last year, ahead of the annual WEF, found 53 percent of 1,581 CEOs in 83 nations expressed a record level or pessimism regarding the global economic outlook this year, projecting a decline.

The figure is a record high, coming after 5 percent of respondents forecast a decline in 2018 and 29 percent did so last year. Meanwhile, CEOs who expected global economic growth marked 22 percent, sharply down from 42 percent from the previous year.

By region, 63 percent of North America CEOs believed growth would decline. Followed by CEOs in Western Europe and the Middle East with 59 percent and 57 percent, respectively.

Meanwhile, only 27 percent of CEOs surveyed said that they were “very confident” in their companies’ growth over the next 12 months -- the lowest level PwC has seen since 2009, after recording 35 percent last year.

The main contributor to the cynical view is uncertainties across a range of issues, and comes as the International Monetary Fund is slashing its own expectations for global growth. They also showed concern over cyber threats, climate change and environmental damage.

Yet despite the increasing number of extreme weather events and intense debate over the issue, the magnitude of other threats continues to overshadow climate change.

“Given the global uncertainties over (US-China) trade tension, geopolitical issues and the lack of agreement on how to deal with climate change, the drop in confidence in economic growth is not that surprising. The key issue for leaders gathering in Davos is how to tackle these problems together,” said PwC Networks Chairman Bob Moritz.

“While there is record pessimism among the business leaders, there are still opportunities out there. With an agile strategy, a sharp focus on the changing expectations of stakeholders and the experience that has built up over the last 10 years in a challenging environment, they can weather an economic downturn and continue to thrive,” he added. 

By Jie Ye-eun (yeeun@heraldcorp.com)
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