The World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos.
First there was denial, then panic, then hope – now there is nagging concern this downturn simply won’t come to an end.
Davos has been through some violent mood swings these past five years. First there was denial. Then there was panic. Then there was hope that the worst was over. Now there is nagging concern that this downturn simply won’t come to an end.
Each year the consultancy firm PwC conducts a survey of the great and good of the business world. The message this year is that the improvement in sentiment seen in 2011 and 2012 has stalled. As far as business confidence is concerned there is a global double-dip recession.
It’s not hard to see why. Everywhere executives look there are problems: real or prospective. In Europe, it is the impact of austerity programmes on growth and the frightening levels of joblessness. In India, it is inflation. In the United States, it is the fiscal cliff. In Japan, it is the prospect of a global currency war triggered by Tokyo’s attempts to drive down the value of the yen.
David Cameron has done his bit to add to the uncertain mood. Announcing that Britain will have an in-out referendum on membership of the European Union in 2017 ensures four years in which foreign companies will be hesitant about investing in Britain.
Unsurprisingly perhaps, the PwC report shows that expectations about strong growth in 2013 are highest in the emerging world and lowest in Europe and Japan, where recent performance has been weak.
Dennis Nally, chairman of PwC International, said executives remained cautious about their short-term prospects and the outlook for the global economy.
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