New ACCA and IMA Report: Global economic confidence rebounds, at highest level since 2009; North America was the most confident region as all major regions and countries perform strongly

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., April 20, 2018The latest Global Economic Conditions Survey (GECS) from ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) and IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants) released today found that global economic confidence is at its highest level in years, with strong growth since the start of 2017. Economic confidence is at its highest since the first GECS survey was issued assessing Q1 2009. 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 new survey found that confidence in North America rebounded strongly in the first quarter of 2018, with 38% feeling more confident about the future, compared with just 26% who were less confident. Although confidence improved in both the U.S. and Canada, the recovery in Canada was especially marked and confidence there is now at a record level.

“The outlook for the global economy is as good as it has been for some time,” said Warner Johnston, Head of ACCA USA. “Recent tax cuts have provided a boost to confidence and will help to ensure that the economy grows by a decent 2.5-3% this year. With the economy doing well and the unemployment rate at a multi-year low, interest rates look set to rise. But with inflationary pressures relatively weak, rate increases are likely to be gradual.”

You can read the full report (here) or at

The report notes that the increase in confidence in the United States—at its highest level since Q1 2017–comes on the heels of significant tax cuts which should help boost consumption, increase wage growth, and prompt lower unemployment rates. Confidence also is high by historical standards, with the proportion of respondents feeling more confident about the future being 10 percentage points more than those less confident.

This improvement is consistent with the actual Gross Domestic Project (GDP) data, which shows the U.S. economy continuing to perform strongly, with unemployment at multi-year lows and wages recovering nicely. The sizeable risk for the economy is the uncertain outlook for interest rates. If the Fed tightens monetary policy too aggressively, it could cause growth to slow.

Raef Lawson, Ph.D., CMA, CSCA, CPA, CFA, IMA vice president of Research and Policy and Professor-In-Residence cautioned that the biggest risk to the overall outlook is the possibility of a trade war between the United States and China, given proposed measures including tariffs, which could escalate tension and impact other regions globally. If this does not occur, the global economy likely would see another year of strong growth.

“Since the start of the year, policymaking in the U.S. has taken a more protectionist turn, causing concern about a possible trade war with China,” Lawson said, noting China’s recent announcement of counter-tariffs. “It is possible that this response by China could escalate the crisis as the U.S. government is no longer willing to abide large imbalances in trade cause by unfair trade policies.”

Fieldwork for the Q1 2018 GECS took place between February 27 and March 15, 2018 and attracted 1,418 responses from 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 200,000 members and 486,000 students in 180 countries, helping them to develop successful careers in accounting and business, with the skills required by employers. ACCA works through a network of 101 offices and centers and more than 7,200 Approved Employers worldwide, who provide high standards of employee 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 is currently introducing 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.

About IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants)

IMA®, named 2017 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) program, continuing education, networking and advocacy of the highest ethical business practices. IMA has a global network of more than 100,000 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/India. For more information about IMA, please visit

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