Davos 2020: Indian CEOs Join Global Peers In Record Pessimism, Shows PwC  Survey
A worker applies a transfer on the wall inside the Congress Center ahead of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, on Monday, Jan. 20, 2020. (Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg)

Davos 2020: Indian CEOs Join Global Peers In Record Pessimism, Shows PwC Survey

Global corporate leaders, including Indian chief executives, went from record optimism in 2018 to record pessimism in 2020.

That’s according to PwC’s 23rd Global CEO Survey which shows that more than half of Indian CEOs believe that the rate of global economic growth will decline in the coming future—close to the 53 percent estimate by global CEOs.

Davos 2020: Indian CEOs Join Global Peers In Record Pessimism, Shows PwC  Survey

At the same time, only 27 percent of all CEOs are “very confident” of their prospects for revenue growth in 2020, the lowest level since 2009. Compared to this, only 40 percent of Indian CEOs surveyed showed confidence.

Davos 2020: Indian CEOs Join Global Peers In Record Pessimism, Shows PwC  Survey

These views may give correlative insight into what the future may look like, Bob Moritz, chairman of PricewaterhouseCoopers, told BloombergQuint in an interview on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos. “CEOs drive agenda, drive investment, drive expansion and jobs growth. So I do think it’s an indicator,” he said.

That comes amid a consumption, investment and credit slowdown in the Indian economy, leading to a drop in India’s GDP growth rate to 4.5 percent in the quarter ended September. Just yesterday, the International Monetary Fund lowered its India growth forecast to 4.8 percent for 2019. To be sure, growth around the globe has taken a hit amid rising trade and geopolitical uncertainties.

Uncertain economic growth emerged as the third-largest threat to global CEOs and their organsiations in 2020, a sharp rise from the 12th-largest threat in 2018. The top two threats this year were over-regulation and trade conflicts. When it comes to India, uncertain economic growth was the largest threat, followed by speed of technological change, policy uncertainty and over-regulation.

It’s clear that the amount of risks that the CEOs are dealing with, the magnitude of those risk and the pace of change is tremendous and has never been more expansive.
Bob Moritz, Chairman, PwC
Davos 2020: Indian CEOs Join Global Peers In Record Pessimism, Shows PwC  Survey

In such an environment, growth of individual organisations will depend on how well CEOs can form and execute their strategies, he said.

Speaking about India, Moritz said while the fundamentals of the country look good in terms of its large infrastructure needs, the confidence has been low because of a slowdown in growth. “Confidence isn’t as good because economic growth isn’t as good as promised or expected.”

Also read: Davos 2020: Asia Bagged Half Of World’s Investment In The Last Decade, Says McKinsey’s Oliver Tonby

Organisations that try to control their own destiny will be able to make significant social change going forward, he said, adding that organisations that leverage data and technology, and work on upskilling their people are more likely be able to control their destiny.

Speaking about a key takeaway from the entire survey, the PwC chief said that it was interesting how climate change did not make it to the top threats of any CEOs across the globe.

WATCH | In conversation with PwC International’s Bob Moritz

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