Hong Kong: One-third of companies are in crisis a year after the fall of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and most are still cutting costs, a McKinsey and Co. survey found.
“A year after the global economic system nearly collapsed, many companies are finally finding ways to increase profits, but almost as many expect profits to continue falling,” the consulting firm said in an emailed report. “Executives indicate that their broader economic hopes remain fragile.”
Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke said in a speech on Tuesday that the US recession has probably ended, while warning growth may not be strong enough to quickly reduce the jobless rate. Stock markets have rallied and bond spreads have contracted this year amid hopes the global economy is rebounding. Bonds have returned 13% this year, according to the Merrill Lynch Global Broad Market corporate bond index. The MSCI World stock index is up 22%.
Less than 10% of survey respondents expect sales to fall because consumers or businesses can’t get credit, McKinsey found. Just under 50% expect higher borrowing costs over the next five years.
China executives are no more likely than those in other countries to predict the start of a global rebound, though some are particularly bullish on China’s economic prospects, with 82% expecting higher growth this year, McKinsey said.
Concern over trade restrictions has eased in the past six months, the survey said.
Almost three-quarters of the firms surveyed expect to be in a stronger position in five years compared with before September 2008. Still, one reason for competitive advantage may be the elimination of weaker firms, the survey said.
McKinsey said it received responses from 1,677 executives from all regions, industries, and company sizes.