What do CEOs know about the future?

When it comes to global economic growth, quite a lot, as it turns out

22nd Annual Global CEO Survey launching 21st January 2019

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Twenty-two years into PwC’s landmark survey of CEO attitudes around the world, the rich treasure trove of data sheds light on the predictive power of chief executives over the past ten years and into the future, namely 2019.

Next week, on the eve of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, PwC will release the 22nd Annual Global CEO Survey, which includes CEO expectations for global economic growth in 2019. This year, 1,378 CEOs responded from 35 industries in more than 90 territories.

Why should their views on global growth be newsworthy? Because CEO Survey responses show that chief executives’ opinions can be uncannily accurate at anticipating global GDP growth over the next 12 months. Specifically, the change in their confidence regarding their own organisation’s revenue growth prospects correlates strongly with actual global economic growth that year. 

Dating back to John Maynard Keynes and his theory of ‘animal spirits’ driving business and financial investment decisions, there has been plenty of empirical evidence that business investment helps drive economic cycles. And business investment is, in turn, based on expectations of revenue growth.

CEO Survey data simply confirms that chief executives can play a useful role in predicting the direction of the global economy. A boost or dip in their confidence levels regarding their own revenue prospects is a leading indicator of actual global economic growth in the year ahead.

In 2018, PwC’s Global CEO Survey revealed record-breaking optimism among chief executives in terms of global growth prospects. Their good cheer was largely borne out. Will 2019 show similar confidence and optimism in the economic and business environment worldwide or signal the next downturn? We will unveil all on 21 January 2019.


Get the CEO Survey report on launch day

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Ilona Steffen

Global Marketing & Insights Director, PwC Switzerland

Tel: +41 79 210 6692

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