The Strategist

Survey: Three-quarters of business heads expect GDP growth

03/12/2021 - 03:07

The majority of global CEOs believe that global GDP will improve this year and that business revenues will grow. This is evidenced by data from a PwC survey of 5,000 CEOs from 100 countries.

GDP growth is expected by 76% of respondents, the highest since the question was included in the survey in 2012. At the end of 2019 there were only 22% of such optimists, while 53% were expecting a slowdown in GDP growth. This year, 14% of respondents are pessimistic.

A robust revenue growth in 2021 is expected by 36% of respondents (47% expect growth over the next three years, up from 27% and 34% a year earlier respectively). The situation differs by sector, with the largest number of respondents confident of growth in technology and telecoms (45% and 43%). Transportation and logistics executives (29%) and hotel and travel services executives (27%) are much less confident about revenue growth in the next 12 months.

The key threats cited by 52% of respondents were pandemic and healthcare (a risk not seen in the last survey), cyber risks (47% vs. 33% last year) and over-regulation (42% vs. 36%, the latter perceived by CEOs as the most significant risk late last year). Uncertain macroeconomic policies rank fourth (38% vs. 33%), while unclear economic prospects rank fifth (35% vs. 34%), and populism ranks sixth (31% vs. 27%). Trade conflicts (a year ago they ranked 2nd) and the shortage of qualified personnel dropped from the top risks (from 6th to 12th place).

CEOs' concerns about the spread of misinformation have increased, with 28% citing it, up from 16% in 2020. The proportion of CEOs expressing concern about global climate change has increased from 24% in 2020 to 30% in 2021. Finally, another risk cited by a significant number of respondents was an increase in the tax burden (31% versus 10%). CEOs fear that the massive fiscal support programmes initiated by governments to combat the pandemic will eventually lead to higher taxes.