New ACCA-IMA Survey Finds Global Economy Faces Dangerous Period of Uncertainty

Katrin Maier     
Anat Gerstein, Inc. (on behalf of ACCA)     
(718) 793-2211        

Kristy Skowronski     
Stern + Associates (on behalf of IMA) 
(908) 276-4344 x208

Largest Economic Survey of Financial Professionals Shows Pessimistic Outlook May Hurt Investment

New York and Montvale, N.J. 
– The global economy entered a “dangerous period of uncertainty” during the third quarter of 2014, according to the ACCA/IMA Global Economic Conditions Survey (GECS), the largest economic survey of professional accountants in the world, published by ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) and IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants).

The survey notes that business confidence in the real economy and capital spending have both taken a direct hit, stressing that only the continued strength of financials and select emerging markets help maintain the illusion of recovery.

The third-quarter GECS findings, based on the views of 1,000 finance professionals around the world, show that a third of global respondents (33 percent up from 32 percent in the last quarter) experienced a loss of confidence in the prospects of their organizations in the last quarter, while only 28 percent reported confidence gains, down from 30 percent in the previous quarter. A majority of finance professionals (58 percent) were still optimistic about the state of the economic recovery in their countries, with 37 percent pessimistic – down one percentage point from the last survey.

While the loss of confidence at the global level appears to be only marginal on aggregate, the new report unearths a number of worrying trends: a second consecutive quarter of falling global business confidence; a growing divide between financials and the real economy; a growing reliance on government spending; fears of deflation in the developed markets; and a synchronized fall in capital spending around most of the world. 

“It is clear that the buoyancy of the financial sector has masked the true picture in the real economy, where despite growth capital being at its most accessible since the global economic crisis, the lack of genuine business opportunities has meant that investment has been subdued around the world,” said report author Manos Schizas, senior economic analyst with ACCA. “The drop in demand for oil and other commodities has also been a test for many emerging economies, which rely on fuel and mineral exports for continued growth and financial stability.”

“The GECS Q3 report comes following some well-publicized issues which were originally thought to be relatively contained, such as the Ukrainian crisis, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, and the rise of the Islamic State,” said Raef Lawson, Ph.D, CMA, CPA, IMA Vice President of Research and Policy. “The impact of these events on economic confidence raises serious questions about how the global economy would react to a truly destabilizing global event.”

The report found that the fundamentals of the U.S. economy strengthened in the third quarter of 2014. Most noticeable was the improvement in cashflow conditions, as well as marginally improved access to business and investment opportunities and growth capital.  Despite positive signals from businesses suggesting a more robust recovery is at hand, and despite fundamentals strongly supporting investment, the macro outlook in the U.S. has darkened, with growing uncertainty impacting investment and breaking the generally positive trend established over the past year.

There is reason to believe that U.S. macro-economic sentiment will recover in late 2014 as sector-level evidence points to a turning point in the business cycle. Respondents in the retail, wholesale, and distribution sectors have generally led the business cycle, while their colleagues in the manufacturing and engineering sectors have lagged. The year-long slowdown in the former appears to have come to an end in the third quarter of 2014, suggesting a more robust recovery may be at hand in the U.S. Meanwhile, regional performance has converged substantially since early 2013, a trend which largely continued in the latest quarter, with the exception of the Northeast, where business confidence has weakened. Businesses in the West and the South are currently leading the U.S. recovery.

About the GEC Survey
This is the 23nd edition of the survey, and the 12th since ACCA and IMA first joined forces to conduct this research. Over the years, GECS has been covered in the international, national and local press more than 6,500 times, and its combined dataset now includes more than 42,000 responses. A review of the first five years of the survey, Five Years of the Global Economic Recovery, was published by ACCA and IMA in July 2014.

About ACCA
ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is the global body for professional accountants. We aim to offer 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. We support our 170,000 members and 436,000 students in 180 countries, helping them to develop successful careers in accounting and business, with the skills required by employers. We work through a network of 91 offices and centers and more than 8,500 Approved Employers worldwide, who provide high standards of employee learning and development. Through our public interest remit, we promote appropriate regulation of accounting and conduct relevant research to ensure accountancy continues to grow in reputation and influence.

About IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants)
IMA®, the association of accountants and financial professionals in business, 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) program, continuing education, networking and advocacy of the highest ethical business practices. IMA has a global network of more than 70,000 members in 140 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/Africa. For more information about IMA, please visit


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