New ACCA and IMA Report: Global economic confidence in Q3 2019 drops to lowest levels in eight years, forecasts intensifying global slowdown in 2020

Taylor Fenske
Stern Strategy Group
(on behalf of IMA)
(908) 325-3866

Jeff Simmons
Anat Gerstein, Inc.
(on behalf of ACCA US)
(917) 673-0024

New York and Montvale, N.J., October 10, 2019 – The latest Global Economic Conditions Survey (GECS) released today from ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) and IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants) found that economic confidence in the United States increased slightly during Q3 2019 but remained at very low levels and close to an all-time low.

GECS is the largest regular economic survey of accountants around the world, in terms of both the number of respondents and the range of economic variables it monitors. The full report is available here and at

The slight uptick in confidence in the US and UK came amid a significant global drop to the lowest level in nearly eight years (with the largest drops in Asia Pacific and South Asia) while the global orders index remained at its lowest level since Q3 2016 – all pointing to an intensifying global slowdown in 2020, the report notes.

“Fears of a global recession are mounting as the world economy and trade slows and well-documented risks become elevated,” said Warner Johnston, Head of ACCA USA. “Risks are on the downside, but a global recession is still unlikely, given the strength of the jobs market in many developed economies and the shift to monetary ease by many central banks.”

To date, the report notes, the US economy has held up well, despite the fading effect of the 2018 fiscal boost. Interest rate cuts by the US Federal Reserve have been presented more as a way of maintaining a reasonable pace of economic activity and acting as an insurance policy against the risks facing the global economy. 

Raef Lawson, Ph.D., CMA, CPA, IMA vice president of research and policy said, “The evidence so far of a significant slowdown in the real economy is mixed – investment has weakened but the consumer is relatively buoyant. The GECS orders index is consistent with GDP growth of between 1% and 1.5% annually through into 2020.”

Lawson added, “But confidence is still at a very low level, close to the all-time low, undermined by the trade war with China and a slowing global economy. Our view remains that a US recession is highly unlikely, either this year or in 2020.”

In other Q3 2019 findings relating to the US:

  • Growth in the US held up in the first half of this year, with an annual rate of 3.1% in the first quarter and 2% in the second. For the third quarter, the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s “Nowcast” estimates GDP growth steady at around 2% annually
  • Consumer spending has been strong so far this year, reflecting a buoyant jobs market. Slower growth in Q2 was largely attributable to a fall in business investment. The GECS US capital expenditure index has been fairly stable in recent quarters and does not indicate a major investment slowdown.
  • Both the jobs market and a revival in the housing market are likely to support continued consumer spending growth and prevent a US recession.

Fieldwork for the Q3 2019 GECS took place between August 30th and September 13th and attracted responses from 1128 ACCA and IMA members around the world, including more than 100 CFOs. 

About ACCA
ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is the global body for professional accountants, offering 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. 

ACCA supports its 219,000 members and 527,000 students (including affiliates) in 179 countries, helping them to develop successful careers in accounting and business, with the skills required by employers. ACCA works through a network of 110 offices and centres and 7,571 Approved Employers worldwide, and 328 approved learning providers who provide high standards of learning and development. 

Through its public interest remit, ACCA promotes appropriate regulation of accounting and conducts relevant research to ensure accountancy continues to grow in reputation and influence.

ACCA has introduced major innovations to its flagship qualification to ensure its members and future members continue to be the most valued, up to date and sought-after accountancy professionals globally. 

Founded in 1904, ACCA has consistently held unique core values: opportunity, diversity, innovation, integrity and accountability. More information is here:

About IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants)
IMA®, named the 2017 and 2018 Professional Body of the Year by The Accountant/International Accounting Bulletin, 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) and CSCA® (Certified in Strategy and Competitive Analysis) programs, continuing education, networking and advocacy of the highest ethical business practices. IMA has a global network of more than 125,000 members in 150 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/India. For more information about IMA, please visit