Interviews

Global business confidence holds steady, but there are challenges ahead

2 min read

20 October 2016

Former special projects journalist

Global business confidence is at its highest in 12 months, with confidence amongst UK businesses holding up relative to the previous quarter.

It’s no surprise business confidence is on the rise. Many countries are anticipating a rise in government spending, China is enjoying a four-year confidence high, and the US is continuing a stable economic recovery.

This is according to the latest “Global Economic Conditions Survey” published by the Association of Chartered Accountants (ACCA) and the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA), that suggested fears over the UK’s vote to leave the European Union would destabilise the global economy have not come to pass.

Faye Chua, head of business insights at ACCA, said that the survey highlighted the importance of governments supporting growth and the increasing realisation of the limits of monetary policy: “Over 51 per cent of global respondents expected government spending to rise, which has driven global business confidence to the highest point in over a year.

“After years of reduced investments in most Western economies, a combination of falling budget deficits and bond yields is encouraging governments to reach for their wallets. This is good news for business in a continued depressed climate for investment and hiring.”

However, despite improvements in confidence, the world is yet to see it translate into a meaningful boost to hiring and investment. Only 19 per cent of firms were considering hiring new staff, while 14 per cent were looking to invest in new technology.

In fact, in every region there were more businesses looking to cut staff than take on more.

Chua argued that there could be bigger challenges ahead for the global economy in the next quarter, with the US presidential elections and Brexit negotiations drawing closer.

With regards to Brexit, perhaps the biggest economic challenge facing UK, a survey by Henley Business School earlier in the month found that businesses are split on the issue. Early research suggested that those who have not been impacted so far are more likely to expect that status quo to continue.

One respondent claimed that “As a nation we have still not comprehended the Brexit impact. By the time we start taming this Leviathan it will have morphed into yet another complex beast.”