Chief executives are more confident about the global economic outlook than at any time in the past decade even as they grapple with the Covid-19 pandemic, rising inflation, supply-chain disruptions and staffing problems, according to PwC.
The firm’s annual survey of CEOs around the world saw 77 per cent of respondents predict that the global economy will improve this year, with only 15 per cent expecting worsening conditions.
The latest reading is a tick higher than the 76 per cent optimism level recorded a year ago, and is some 54 per cent higher than in 2020, before the pandemic.
Confidence levels among Irish CEOs about the domestic economy are even higher, with 91 per cent of local respondents saying they are of the view that it will improve this year.
“While the ongoing pandemic and emergence of new variants cast a shadow over the year, the high level of CEO optimism we found speaks to the strength and resilience of the global economy and the ability of CEOs to manage through uncertainty,” said Bob Moritz, global chairman of PwC.
“There is nothing ‘normal’ about the world we are working in, but we are getting used to it. We are seeing differences in confidence among countries, and there is no shortage of challenges to navigate, but it is encouraging that CEOs we spoke with on the whole feel positive about 2022.”
Among the largest territories, optimism is highest in India, where 94 per cent of CEOs anticipate global growth in the coming year. At the other end of the spectrum, optimism about the global economy declined most notably in the US, down 18 points to 70 per cent, and China, which fell nine points to 62 per cent, amid rising inflation and supply chain constraints.
Similar to last year, cyber and health risks rank as the leading global threats, identified by 49 per cent and 48 per cent of CEOs respectively.
Not far behind is macroeconomic volatility, with 43 per cent of CEOs either very or extremely concerned about the potential impact of inflation, fluctuations in gross domestic product (GDP) and labour market issues in the coming year.
From an industry perspective, cyber risks are top of the mind for financial services CEOs, 59 per cent of whom cited cyber as a key threat.
PwC surveyed 4,446 CEOs in 89 countries and territories in October and November of last year for the survey.