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Economic confidence collapses to record low as world’s economies fight Covid-19 pandemic


08 Apr 2020



Accountancy experts say global economic confidence in Q1 has capitulated as economies struggle to get to grips with the fallout from the Coronavirus.

A global survey of more than 870 senior accountancy practitioners, who reflect the outlook of thousands of businesses they advise, found that confidence has fallen by 13% to -45, representing a report low in the 11 year history of the research.

The report Global Economic Conditions Survey (GECS), jointly published by ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) and IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants) reveals:

  • Global confidence fell to its lowest level on record with big falls in all regions
  • The global orders index, which tends to be less volatile than confidence, also fell sharply
  • Asia Pacific confidence is the lowest among all regions and the orders balance fell by more than anywhere else in Q1
  • The regional index of concern about suppliers going out of business jumped to a record high of 22 in Q1 compared with a long run average of 8

Michael Taylor, chief economist at ACCA, revealed there was relatively little divergence in confidence between regions owing to the global nature of the coronavirus economic shock.  

He said: ‘Confidence fell everywhere and, in most cases, sharply and to the lowest since the survey began in 2009.

‘The Q1 drop in Asia Pacific confidence is less than the global average, but confidence here was already relatively weak as a consequence of US-China trade tensions.

‘Hence it took less of a drop to reduce Asia Pacific confidence to the lowest among all regions. Western Europe and the Middle East have only a slightly higher confidence level.

‘The orders balance is closer to real economic activity than sentiment driven confidence. The falls in orders may be less extreme than for confidence, but nevertheless are across the board.

‘The regional pattern reflects the geographical spread of the coronavirus at the time of the Q1 survey with the biggest fall in Asia Pacific and the smallest drop in Africa.’

Mr Taylor warned of significantly lower levels of economic output to come in the immediate future.

He added: ‘Early data releases, such as US jobless claims and monthly activity surveys in the US, euro-zone and UK point to plunging levels of economic output.

‘Emerging market economies face additional difficulties as a flight to quality among investors triggers capital outflows.’

Raef Lawson, IMA vice president of research and policy, said: ‘In normal circumstances, economic conditions change little in the space of just a few weeks. But these are not normal circumstances.

‘So, although global confidence and orders both fell significantly in the Q1 survey, they do not convey the true scale of the global economic contraction that is now in progress.

‘What is abundantly clear is that the global economy is heading into a recession, initially at least a severe one.’

Looking ahead, Michael Taylor concludes: ‘The economic damage in coming months will be huge. But if appropriate policy action is taken, then conditions for recovery will be in place when the COVID-19 health crisis is substantially over.’

GECS Q1 2020 can be found online at:

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For more information on ACCA’s global coronavirus hub, featuring the latest news, research and advice to businesses and practitioners, visit

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 the 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) and CSCA® (Certified in Strategy and Competitive Analysis) programs, continuing education, networking and advocacy of the highest ethical business practices. IMA has a global network of more than 125,000 members in 150 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