Rumblings of an economic downturn or even recession aren’t being missed by CEOs the world over. A recent survey by PwC of 4,410 chief executives in 105 countries found that 73% expect global economic growth to decline this year.
That is the most pessimistic business leaders have been about the economy since PwC started asking about it 12 years ago, the company said. The 2023 figures are a stark contrast to 2022, when 77% of leaders expected to see economic growth improve, and 2021, when 76% predicted an uptick.
Nearly 40% of CEOs said changes would need to be made for their organizations to be economically viable in a decade. Chief executives’ confidence in their companies’ growth dropped 26% from 2022, marking the largest year-over-year decline since a 58% drop during the 2008-2009 recession.
“A volatile economy, decades-high inflation and geopolitical conflict have contributed to a level of CEO pessimism not seen in over a decade. CEOs globally are consequently re-evaluating their operating models and cutting costs. Yet despite these pressures, they are continuing to put their people front and center as they look to retain talent in the wake of the ‘Great Resignation,’” Bob Moritz, global chairman of PwC, said in a news release.
Moritz said companies that want to survive and thrive need to balance handling short-term risks with long-term outcomes.
Top concerns among CEOs for the next five years are inflation (40%), macroeconomic volatility (31%) and geopolitical conflicts (25%), the report found.
Fifty-two percent of CEOs are reducing costs, 51% are raising prices, and 48% are diversifying their offerings, the report found. Yet 60% say they don’t intend to cut their workforce in the next year.