Davos: Chief executives from New York to Tokyo are wary that a global recession could put a halt to growth as prospects for business confidence declined for the first time since 2003.
Those were the primary findings in the annual PricewaterhouseCoopers survey of CEOs from around the world that was released on the eve of the World Economic Forum.
The survey found that just 50% of CEOs were “very confident” about their growth in the coming year, compared to 52% last year. That was the first time since 2003 the figure had declined.
It was the first time since the survey began 11 years ago that the survey emphasised growth as the chief concern.
The difference in sentiment is clear, said Samuel A DiPiazza, global CEO of New York-based consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.
“The credit crunch and the slowdown in the Western economies have created a clear split in the confidence levels of CEOs around the world,” he said. “The possibility that the downturn could worsen into recession looms large for CEOs in established economies like the US and Western Europe.”
But in Asia, for example, and other emerging economies, CEO confidence “remains strong, perhaps because they have experienced nothing but rapid expansion for a decade or more.”
The overall drop in business confidence was most prevalent in North America, where only 35% of CEOs said they were “very confident” about growth, compared to 53% in 2007. Confidence among Western European CEOs dropped to 44%, down by eight percentage points from last year.