Optimism booms among Davos CEOs despite geopolitical storm clouds

DAVOS, Switzerland – Chief executives are more optimistic about the economic outlook than they have been for many years although anxieties are rising about geopolitics, cyber threats and terrorism, a survey showed on the eve of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos.

Reuters

The PwC survey of nearly 1,300 CEOs found that 57 percent expect global growth to improve in 2018, almost twice the level of last year and the largest increase since the survey began in 2012.

The optimism was especially strong in the United States after a year of robust growth, deregulation and tax cuts under President Donald Trump.

Some 59 percent of U.S. CEOs expressed confidence in the economy, compared to 24 percent last year, and 52 percent said they expected this to translate into revenue growth for their companies in 2018, up from 39 percent.

“With the stock markets booming and GDP predicted to grow in most major markets around the world, it’s no surprise CEOs are so bullish,” said Bob Moritz, global chairman at PwC.

But the optimism over the one-year outlook masked deepening anxiety over a range of societal threats.

At least 40 percent of CEOs admitted to being “extremely concerned” about geopolitical uncertainty, cyber threats and terrorism, while 31 percent worried about climate change after a year of devastating storms.

Last week, the WEF’s Global Risks Report pointed to rising concerns about war after a year in which Trump threatened to “totally destroy” nuclear power North Korea and pull the U.S. out of a deal between Western powers and Iran aimed at curbing its nuclear program.

“The higher level of concern is being driven by larger societal and geopolitical shifts rather than the dynamics of business leaders’ own markets” said Moritz.

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