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Global economic confidence bounces back in Q4 completing a volatile year


21 Jan 2020



Global economic confidence bounced back in Q4 2019, to around its level in mid-2019 finds the latest Global Economic Conditions Survey (GECS) from ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) and IMA (Institute of Management Accountants).

But global confidence is below its long run average and the message is continued modest expansion in the world economy early in 2020. The global poll of 2,560 accountants shows that all key regions reported a recovery in confidence with an especially strong bounce in North America.

The global orders index, which is less volatile than confidence, was little changed for the third quarter in a row. Global investment and employment indices were also pretty stable in Q4, close to long run averages. The message from the GECS is steady growth early in 2020 but with no significant recovery. The global inflation picture continues to point to subdued cost pressures, reflecting the effects of a slowdown in economic growth. The GECS points to this continuing, with concerns about rising operating costs falling for six consecutive quarters, to the lowest level in three years. Low inflation means that central banks are in a position to ease monetary policy if activity falters.

GECS Q4 also showed:

  • the possibility that suppliers could go out of business was a worry for just over 10% of respondents
  • the proportion concerned about customers going out of business fell slightly to 22% but remains close to a five-year high 
  • orders declined in some areas such as the UK and Middle East and increased in others

especially Africa and Central and Eastern Europe.

  • for the first time since Q2 2018 the US orders index increased, an encouraging pointer to US growth early in 2020

Michael Taylor, chief economist at ACCA said of the global results: ‘Last year the global economy expanded at close to 3%, the slowest rate since the financial crisis ten years ago. The GECS foreshadowed this slowdown which continued steadily throughout last year. Looking ahead the GECS points to steady growth early in 2020, with no strong pick up but no global recession either.     

Taylor continued: ‘Many risks to the global economy in 2020 are the same as in 2019, including trade tensions between the US and China, which were a major cause of slowing global growth. Recent developments in this area have been positive, but risks of a re-escalation with renewed tariff increases remain. The Middle East is the current focus of geopolitical risk although the potential for conflict here to hurt the global economy through a surge in oil prices is much reduced.’

Raef Lawson, Ph.D., CMA, CPA, IMA vice president of research and policy commented: ‘There are downside risks to the economy, the main one being a re-escalation of US-China trade tensions. But on the upside last year’s monetary easing by the US Federal Reserve and many other central banks will support growth in coming months. It is also of course a US presidential election year, which often coincides with a buoyant economy. To sum up, a global recession is very unlikely but it will be another year of sluggish growth.’

GECS Q4 2020 can be found online at:

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About ACCA

ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is the global body for professional accountants, offering business-relevant, first-choice qualifications to people of application, ability and ambition around the world who seek a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management.

ACCA supports its 219,000 members and 527,000 students (including affiliates) in 179 countries, helping them to develop successful careers in accounting and business, with the skills required by employers. ACCA works through a network of 110 offices and centres and 7,571 Approved Employers worldwide, and 328 approved learning providers who provide high standards of learning and development. Through its public interest remit, ACCA promotes appropriate regulation of accounting and conducts relevant research to ensure accountancy continues to grow in reputation and influence.

ACCA has introduced major innovations to its flagship qualification to ensure its members and future members continue to be the most valued, up to date and sought-after accountancy professionals globally. Founded in 1904, ACCA has consistently held unique core values: opportunity, diversity, innovation, integrity and accountability. More information is here:

About IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants)

IMA®, named 2017 and 2018 Professional Body of the Year by The Accountant/International Accounting Bulletin, is one of the largest and most respected associations focused exclusively on advancing the management accounting profession. Globally, IMA supports the profession through research, the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) program, continuing education, networking and advocacy of the highest ethical business practices. IMA has a global network of more than 100,000 members in 140 countries and 300 professional and student chapters Headquartered in Montvale, N.J., USA, IMA provides localized services through its four global regions: The Americas, Asia/Pacific, Europe, and Middle East/India. For more information about IMA, please visit