The latest Global Economic Conditions Survey (GECS) of Q3 2021 by IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants) and the ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants), points to an easing of the pace of economic growth as we near the close of the year.

The GECS, the largest regular economic survey of nearly 1,000 senior accountants and finance professionals from around the world, has been conducted for more than 10 years. Its main indices are good leading indicators of economic activity and provide valuable insights into the views of finance professionals on key variables, such as investment, employment, and costs. Most recently, it also has successfully captured the scale of the global recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The full report is available on the IMA website

This quarter’s GECS revealed that confidence fell back compared to Q2 but remains at a high level. Despite high vaccination rates in many developed countries, the prevalence of the Delta variant of COVID-19 is resulting in a degree of caution that is affecting confidence. The global orders index, which is less volatile than the confidence measure, increased marginally in the Q3 survey after strong gains in the first half. This is consistent with a moderation in the pace of growth, although this was to be expected after the post-lockdown bounce.

The two "fear" indices – measured by concern that customers and suppliers may go out of business – both declined again in the Q3 survey. Indeed, both indices are now back in line with long-run averages. This confirms that the perceived level of uncertainty about economic prospects has returned to more normal levels, at least at the global level.

There was a wide regional variation in changes in confidence. The global confidence index was dragged down in particular by falls in confidence in North America and Western Europe. Both regions still have relatively high levels of confidence after big jumps in the first half of the year. By contrast, confidence increased in Asia Pacific and South Asia in the Q3 survey, recovering after falls in the previous survey. The Middle East is the only region to record improved confidence in both the Q2 and Q3 surveys.

In addition, in many emerging markets, where vaccination rates are low, containment measures are directly affecting output. This is a particular issue in Southeast Asia, where GDP forecasts for this year have been downgraded.

Fieldwork for the Q3 2021 survey took place between August 31 and September 15, 2021, and attracted 985 responses from ACCA and IMA members, including more than 100 CFOs.

For more information, visit the IMA website.