CEO optimism booms despite increasing anxiety over threats to growth

  • Optimism in global economic growth reaches record level and rises in all countries
  • US reinforces its lead on China as a target market for growth in 2018
  • Over half of CEOs expect their headcount to increase
  • Terrorism, geopolitical uncertainty, cyber and climate change rise as threats to growth

DAVOS, Switzerland, 22 January 2018 – A record-breaking share of CEOs are optimistic about the economic environment worldwide, at least in the short term. That’s one of the key findings of PwC’s 21st survey of almost 1,300 CEOs around the world, launched today at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos.

Fifty seven percent of business leaders say they believe global economic growth will improve in the next 12 months. It’s almost twice the level of last year (29%) and the largest ever increase since PwC began asking about global growth in 2012.

Optimism in global growth has more than doubled in the US (59%) after a period of uncertainty surrounding the election (2017: 24%). Brazil also saw a large increase in the share of CEOs who are optimistic global growth will improve (+38% to 80%). And even among the less optimistic countries such as Japan (2018: 38% vs. 2017: 11%) and the UK (2018: 36% vs. 2017: 17%), optimism in global growth has more than doubled since last year.

“CEOs’ optimism in the global economy is driven by the economic indicators being so strong. With the stock markets booming and GDP predicted to grow in most major markets around the world, it’s no surprise CEOs are so bullish,” comments Bob Moritz, Global Chairman, PwC.

In Jamaica, “We too are optimistic about the economic prospects, with business confidence up especially in the light of very good macro-economic indicators.  The Jamaica Stock Exchange continues to perform strongly with virtually all new listings in 2017 being heavily oversubscribed, clearing indicating that there is growing confidence in the market.” said Leighton McKnight, Territory Leader for PwC Jamaica.  “Growth should pick up this year based on the trends in the economy especially if the rising concerns on crime are appropriately addressed.  Jamaica’s outlook is on par with the global expectations, 2018 looks promising”, he added.  

Impact of technology on employment and skills

While recent research by PwC showed that workers were optimistic about technology improving their job prospects, CEOs admit that helping employees retrain, and increasing transparency on how automation and AI could impact jobs is becoming a more important issue for them.

Two thirds of CEOs believe they have a responsibility to retrain employees whose roles are replaced by technology, chiefly amongst the Engineering & Construction (73%), Technology (71%) and Communications (77%) sectors. 61% of CEOs build trust with their workforce by creating transparency, at least to some extent, on how automation and AI impact their employees.

 

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