Global economic sentiment still negative, but slowly improving

Latest business barometer reading shows executives' global outlooks ticking closer to positive territory

Global economic sentiment still negative, but slowly improving

Executives around the world are slowly letting go of their bleak economic outlooks, but they’re still firmly in the camp of pessimism.

That’s according to the latest Global Business Barometer from the Economist Intelligence Unit, which registered executive sentiment regarding the three-month outlook for the global economy rising to -16.8 in June, up from its May reading of -27.7.

The findings from June also represent the second straight month of improvement from April, when the overall sentiment across all respondents with respect to the world economy wallowed at -39.4. With the latest barometer reading, global executives have moved the needle from the “much worse” outlook category in the first two surveys to a slightly improved “somewhat worse.”

North American respondents appeared more bearish than their global peers. Starting from an April low of -38.1, their sentiment on the global economy’s three-month outlook significantly improved in May to -26. But the subsequent survey showed little improvement, creeping up marginally to -24.5.

On average, respondents’ attitudes with respect to their own region’s economy traced a more staggered trajectory. Globally, respondents’ economic outlooks on their home region averaged out to a sentiment score of -36.8 in April, improving slightly to -32 in May and a much less negative -17.8 in June.

A similar story played out among North American respondents assessing the three-month outlook for North America, among the April and May readings were virtually flat at -34.6 and -34.4, respectively. The reported outlook for June showed a significant improvement, accelerating to -24 but still trailing the average sentiment score among all respondents globally.

Focusing on Canada, respondents’ three-month outlooks for the country’s economy moved at an even more crawl-like pace, from -35.2 in April to -31.5 in May, then -27.5 in June.

The June survey also asked respondents’ thoughts on whether their country is ready to open, to which only 8.1% said that they “strongly agree.” To another question on whether their own company is ready to resume operations similar to what they had before the pandemic, just 6.7% said they “strongly agree.”

“Those figures are chilling whether you read them as recognition of the scale and scope of the problem or an indictment of global and country-level responses to COVID-19,” the Economist Intelligence Unit said in a statement.


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