World Economic Forum Special Report

Think CEOs Are Growing More Confident? Think Again

Jason Alden | Bloomberg | Getty Images

CEOs, many of whom are gathering in the Swiss ski resort of Davos for the annual World Economic Forum this week, are feeling less optimistic about their companies' growth prospects than last year or the year before, with many concerned that the global economy will decline further in 2013, PwC said on Tuesday.

A new survey, for which 1,330 interviews were conducted in 68 countries, found that only 36 percent of CEOs worldwide were "very confident" of their company's growth prospects in the next 12 months. The figure was down from last year and 2011, but still above lows recorded in 2010 and 2009.

"We would say confidence levels are actually down this year going into the next 12 months…Most are saying that they don't expect a lot of change this year about the same as the past year," Dennis Nally, Chairman of PwC said Tuesday.

Twenty-eight percent of CEOs say the global economy will decline further in 2013, and only 18 percent predict economic improvement; 52 percent say it will stay the same.

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"I think certainly the number one issue is just the whole global picture around uncertainty and so you've got pockets of growth, positive as well as negative," Nally said.

"But then again you look to the issues around governments and that can go to deficits, go to debt levels, go to uncertainty around taxes, regulation, another big issue. So you look at all these clouds and that's what's really impacting how CEOs are looking at the next 12 to 18 months," he said.

The situation is no better in Asia, where the outlook for growth is similar, he said.

"What it does really suggest is that we're all in this together. We are talking about a global economy. We're going to have ups and we're going to have downs," he said.

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He said the key thing for policymakers to do is remove uncertainty, arguing that this issue is holding back CEOs.

"CEOs want to have some degree of understanding around what the rules of the games are. Whether it's taxes, whether its regulation, how they're going to deal with deficits… That's the piece of the puzzle that's really missing today."