Business executives are pessimistic about the global economy and concerned over trade disruptions, according to a McKinsey survey.

For the second quarter in a row, respondents in the consultancy’s March 2019 Economic Conditions Snapshot expressed gloomy views about current economic conditions and whether they will improve in the months ahead. Just 16% of respondents reported improved global conditions in recent months. Looking ahead, only 19% predicted that global economic conditions will improve in the next six months, compared with 45% who believed that conditions will worsen. At the same time, the share that expected the global growth rate to contract is down slightly since the previous survey, while the share that expected no change increased.


There is similar pessimism about domestic economies. Only a quarter of all respondents said current economic conditions in their home economies were better than they were six months ago, while 36% said conditions have worsened. By region, the respondents least likely to report improvements were those in Europe and North America.

Many cited trade conflicts as a key threat to global growth. When asked about trade between their home countries and the rest of the world, respondents were more likely to report a decline than they were in all of 2018. Across regions, respondents in North America were the most likely to report a decline (56%, up from 44% in the previous survey), followed by their peers in developing markets. Respondents in India were most likely to report an increase.

However, there are signs of optimism among emerging economies and for companies’ prospects. Respondents in emerging economies were twice as likely as those in developed economies to expect their countries’ economic prospects to improve in the next six months. Larger shares of emerging economy respondents – 52%, compared with 36% of their peers – expected their countries’ growth rates to increase in the months ahead.