CEOs from around the world are more optimistic about global economic growth in 2018 than they were in 2017, according to professional services firm PwC. A report by the firm found 57% of CEOs believe global economic growth will continue to rise in the next 12 months.

The report, which was based on interviews with 1300 bosses, concluded that global CEO optimism is nearly twice as high as it was in 2017 (29%) due to improved political and regulatory conditions. Most notably, 59% of US CEOs were upbeat about global growth in 2018, compared to only 24% in 2017.


This shift reflects how US CEOs have adjusted to the economic agenda of US president Donald Trump, especially following the recent tax reforms and strong performances across all economic indicators. “With the stock markets booming and GDP predicted to grow in in most major markets around the world, it is no surprise CEOs are so bullish,” said Bob Moritz, PwC’s global chairman.

Meanwhile, 46% of non-US based CEOs selected the US as the top market for economic growth in 2018, with China (33%) and Germany (20%) finishing second and third, respectively. The UK is considered to be the fourth most attractive market by CEOs and with Brexit negotiations now under way, optimism for global growth has more than doubled in the UK, from 17% in 2017 to 38% in 2018.

Besides geopolitical and regulatory considerations, CEOs are also concerned with addressing talent and technological needs to achieve short-term revenue growth in 2018. According to the report, 54% of CEOs would like to hire new recruits, especially business leaders in healthcare (71%), technology (70%) and business services (67%). In particular, candidates with strong digital skills are highly desirable, especially in China, where 51% of business leaders indicated “extreme concern” over the availability of digital skills in their home market.

“Our education systems need to arm a global workforce with the right skills to succeed,” said Mr Mortiz. “That means pioneering new approaches to educating students and training workers in the fields that matter in a technology-enabled job market.”

Although CEOs are largely optimistic about economic growth in 2018, the report identifies several concerns, including geopolitical uncertainty, cyber-attacks and terrorism. Nearly 41% identified terrorism as a threat to global growth, compared with just 20% in 2017. “The higher level of concern is being driven by larger societal and geopolitical shifts, rather than the dynamics of business leaders’ own markets,” said Mr Moritz.