Just not in the areas you might imagine

Growth, but not as we know it

Growth, but not as we know it


of CEOs see more opportunities today than there were three years ago

CEO interview quotes

“The economy over the next year to three years will continue to be uncertain. There’s a lot of volatility and change taking place, and what’s important in that environment is that companies are structured in such a way that they can deal with any type of uncertainty or economic situation that’s going to happen.”
“The next few years are going to be complex, because different dynamics are set to appear in the world. The United States will be showing all of its economy’s potential… China will not be able to sustain its current growth rates and Europe still has three or four flat years ahead because it has not yet solved its underlying problems.”
“I'm quite optimistic about the business environment in Africa as fundamentals are improving... And while the general population might not feel the full benefits of growth, as a businessman I have noticed a progression in various sectors across most countries.”
“Simply put, we are going to see the era of the “G2” - the US and China. The G7 countries still account for a large part of the world economy in terms of GDP, but their position will begin to decline in the next 10 years, while China and the rest of Asia will have a much larger share.”
“There is quite a bit of volatility in the market. Because energy plays a significant role in the global economy and at this point in time, there is a significant shift in the oil price, the capacity of different economies in the world to absorb this price movement may cause some major economic upheavals for some countries.”
“While emerging markets will continue to be a very important driver of growth for us, the ability of the US, the Japanese, and the European economies to perform well will continue to be foundational for our growth.”
“Asia continues to have the potential to be the driver of growth for the world. And there are lots of eyes on China, on how China will emerge out of the recent times that they have seen. But… again there is a great sense of confidence that the Chinese government is taking measures to improve things.”
“I think there are some... good signs in the markets that we’re working in that [they] are becoming freer, they’re becoming more transparent. And generally I think...that world trade is becoming freer as well.”

Key findings

Many CEOs this year are looking for the positives even as they continue to be wary about the state of the global economy. 61% say they see more opportunities for growth today than there were three years ago. And just as many CEOs this year as last year say they’re very confident about their business growth prospects in the next 12 months. This, despite rising concerns across a range of business risks, and recognition from many that their industries face upheaval. Instead, CEOs are exploring how they can create new value in a complex and contradictory environment.

That’s a smart strategy when you take into account the global uncertainty about where economic growth will come from. CEOs are less hopeful than they were a year ago about global economic growth prospects. 37% think the outlook will improve over the next 12 months, compared with 44% last year. 17%—more than twice as many as last year—think the outlook will worsen(1). The challenge CEOs face is anticipating which markets offer the best opportunity for growth at a time when the global business community is still looking to gets its swagger back.

Regulation fears keep CEOs awake at night, but so do many other concerns. 78% cite over-regulation as the top threat to business growth prospects. That’s an increase of 6% from last year. Rising taxes, as well as government response to national deficits and debt burdens, also remain top threats. But concerns are coming from a variety of other places – many, for example, are anxious about geopolitical uncertainty and social instability. Though CEOs are displaying increased concern about almost all the threats we raised, cyber security, the speed of technological change and the availability of key skills are getting special attention. And business leaders see regulatory change, increased competition and changes in customer behaviours as the top-three disruptive forces in their industry over the next five years.

(1) In previous years, respondents were asked ‘Do you believe the global economy will improve, stay the same or decline over the next 12 months?'

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