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Uncertainty is causing a record decline in CEO optimism around global growth: PWC

Heidi Chung
Reporter

CEO optimism around global growth saw a record decline due to lingering uncertainty, a new survey from PwC found.

“I think that all goes back to uncertainty that’s out there,” PwC U.S. Chairman Tim Ryan told Yahoo Finance at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “We look at everything that’s going on, we think about trade, geopolitics, protectionism [and] regulation. It’s caused some pessimism out there. Not a surprise, but without a doubt certainly influencing some of the thinking.”

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However, even as CEOs around the world are less confident about the state of global growth, business leaders are still confident in their abilities to grow their businesses. “We saw a little bit of a conundrum because we also survey not just [CEOs’] views of the global economy, but we also survey how confident [CEOs] feel in their ability to grow revenues over the next 12 months,” Ryan explained. “While that was a decline from previous years, it’s still pretty high. So what’s interesting is while the general view of the global growth is a little bit down, what we’re seeing is CEOs confidence in their own abilities to grow their own revenues is still very high.”

U.S. President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping shake hands after making joint statements at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, November 9, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj/File Photo

Ryan said that most of the concerns amongst CEOs could be quelled with more certainty. PwC’s survey period ended around October and November, so it did not factor in the phase one trade deal that was signed between the U.S. and China on Jan. 15.

“It’ll be interesting to see if we did [the survey] today because here we are a couple of months later you’ve got a phase one [trade deal and] USMCA. So directionally, I think we feel a bit better than what the survey is indicating,” Ryan said. “There is this sense of confidence that there’s a lot of really good signs in the economy in terms of consumer strength, companies investing, lot of investments in technology. So I think we do feel pretty good.” 

Heidi Chung is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @heidi_chung.

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