Overseas, China continues to play an outsized and increasingly prominent role on the global economic stage, even as it continues aggressive efforts to re-orient its economy from one based on the manufacturing sector to a consumer-driven model. As the Global Pulse survey makes clear, this transition has not been painless and has resulted in some diminution of overall confidence. China's GDP growth rate has slowed from a double-digit pace of about 10 percent in the last decade to 7.5 percent from 2012-2014. Forecasts predict GDP in China may further slow, to an estimated 6.7 percent in 2015. Certainly, the meltdown in the Chinese stock market was another potent negative, albeit a superficial one driven by the clumsy introduction of margin borrowing to the Chinese investing public.
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But the unlocked potential of the Chinese consumer market is, in a word, gargantuan. The central challenge is that China's 1.3 billion consumers are not spending enough—yet. In the past couple of weeks alone, we've seen an array of consumer-oriented companies aggressively move into the Chinese market.
Carnival Cruise Lines recently announced that it will add two ships to its China fleet in 2016, bringing its Chinese total to six ships. In making the announcement, Carnival cited "double-digit annual returns" and an expectation that China will eventually become the largest cruise market in the world. Unilever is also illustrative, as it recently expanded its offerings in China through a newly formed partnership with e-commerce operator Alibaba. And, of course, the ubiquitous Apple story is increasingly China-focused, as the company recently reported that Greater China region sales more than doubled to $13 billion. The notion here is that Chinese consumers will spend more (and more consistently) on a diverse array of appealing consumer options, hastening the transition to a consumer-focused economy.
Those seeking clarity in the months ahead may be disappointed. If this is the "new normal" we've heard so much about, then the ability of CEOs to adapt and thrive provides reason for optimism in the months ahead.
—By Sunny Vanderbeck, managing partner at Satori Capital and a member of the CNBC-YPO Chief Executive Network
CNBC and YPO (Young Presidents' Organization) have formed an exclusive editorial partnership consisting of regional Chief Executive Networks in the Americas, EMEA and Asia-Pacific. These Chief Executive Networks are made up of a sample of YPO's unrivaled global network of 23,000 top executives from 130 countries. Altogether, YPO member-run companies employ more than 15 million people around the world and generate $6 trillion in annual revenues. The opinions of Chief Executive Network members are solely their own and do not reflect the opinions of YPO as a whole or CNBC.