MSI Global Feelgood Index Shows Confidence Building in North America, but Uncertainties in Eurozone Still Pose Threat to Recovery

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MSI’s latest business confidence survey shows some regional variations in terms of business sentiment compared to the report of November 2011, but while the worst may possibly be over, at the start of 2012, the outlook for the global economy continues to give cause for concern.

The year ahead will be challenging for many regions and countries across the globe, with the Eurozone economy as a whole expected to go into a mild recession.

Research into levels of business confidence worldwide from the leading international association of professional services firms MSI Global Alliance shows that recovery in many of the major Western economies is being hampered by continued strains in the Eurozone.

“The year ahead will be challenging for many regions and countries across the globe, with the Eurozone economy as a whole expected to go into a mild recession," warned Joe Nellis, Professor of International Management Economics at Cranfield School of Management.

“This will have a direct impact on the major exporting countries, especially China, Japan and Germany. This year is likely to see the bottom of what has become known as the ‘Great Recession’ – but many uncertainties will still pose a threat to the path of recovery thereafter.”

The MSI Global Feelgood Index, which uses weighted averages of seven key business performance indicators, indicates that the balance of confidence remains virtually neutral at the global level (+0.10). However, over the last three months, there has been a notable upturn in the balance of confidence in the North American region (from +0.04 to +0.22). This supports the emerging view that the region is near to or at the bottom of the economic cycle and that a modest recovery may well be under way. This view is supported by the latest forecasts from the IMF for the region, with GDP in the USA expected to grow by 1.8% in 2012.

This is tempered by the balance of business confidence in general across Western Europe remaining in negative territory (-0.04). James Mendelssohn, MSI’s Chief Executive, comments: “This is not surprising in the light of the sovereign debt crisis that continues to build momentum in some Euro member states – particularly Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy.” In contrast, and unexpectedly, the balance of business confidence in Eastern Europe is positive (at +0.39).

The survey also shows that North Americans are generally more optimistic, particularly with regards to the outlook for their companies’ sales pipeline (+0.35), whereas in Western Europe few have confidence in the prospects for strong company sales (-0.06).

Over the last three months there has been a slight downturn in the MSI Feelgood Index for the Australia/New Zealand region (from +0.03 to -0.03), more or less matching that of Eastern Asia (-0.05) and the Indian region (-0.01).

The general level of business confidence remains positive in Latin America and directly in tandem with the +0.22 balance noted earlier for North America.

Finally, the balance of optimism in the Middle East and North Africa as well as Southern Africa regions has dampened, according to the latest MSI Feelgood Index (from +0.33 to +0.07 and from +0.22 to +0.04 respectively) – but is still in positive territory.

Nellis concludes: “The IMF, in its most recent World Economic Outlook report, now expects the global economy to grow by 3.25 per cent in 2012; this is down significantly from the 4 per cent predicted just a few months ago. The findings of MSI’s latest Global Feelgood Index show that the year ahead will be challenging for many regions and countries.”

Note to Editors

Each quarter, the MSI Global Feelgood Index surveys business owners and managers in over 100 countries on their levels of optimism regarding seven key areas of business: sales pipeline, profit margins, cash flow, spending on investment capital, staff numbers, spending on marketing and advertising, and spending on staff training and welfare.

From the period 16 -31 January 2012, participants were asked to state their level of optimism or pessimism for each of the seven key areas of business. The responses were then collated and weighted to reflect the size of the different economies in the responding countries, before being analysed by Joe Nellis, Professor of International Management Economics at Cranfield School of Management, a leading international business school based in the UK.

The full research report with global and regional breakdowns and additional comments from Professor Joe Nellis is available on our website at http://www.msiglobal.org or can be requested by email from MSI’s marketing team (marketing(at)msiglobal(dot)org). Alternatively visit the MSI Global Feelgood Index blog at http://www.msiglobal.org/blog/
About MSI Global Alliance (MSI)

MSI Global Alliance (MSI) is an international association of independent professional firms, with over 250 member firms in some 105 countries. MSI was established in 1990 in response to the growing need for cross-border co-operation between professional services firms. MSI is different to other international associations and networks due to its multidisciplinary membership of both accounting and law firms and its comprehensive global coverage. MSI was recently shortlisted by The Lawyer magazine in the category Law Firm Network of the Year category at the Lawyer European Awards.

For more information about MSI, the Global Feelgood Index, and MSI’s member firms, please go to http://www.msiglobal.org or follow the association’s updates on Twitter @msi_global

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Giles Brake
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