The latest ACCA and IMA Global Economic Conditions Survey (GECS) saw a moderate increase in confidence to put the index just above its historical average. Add in small increases to the New Orders and Employment indices – both of which are slightly above their averages – and a positive picture emerges of a gradually improving economic outlook. That said, there was a small decline in the Capital Expenditure Index, which remains below average.

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Encouragingly, there were gains in confidence in most regions. The rise in Asia-Pacific was the third largest on record and may reflect growing confidence in the resilience of the US economy, signs of improvement in the Chinese data and wider global economy, and perhaps rising optimism that Japan may finally be exiting from its decades long battle against deflation. The moderate rise in confidence in Western Europe also suggests that growth may be gradually improving from the weakness of recent quarters.  

On a less positive note, global concerns about increased operating costs rose, although they remain below their Q3 2022 peak. Interestingly, concerns about costs eased again in the advanced economies of North America and Western Europe while remaining elevated by historical standards. By contrast, cost concerns rose noticeably in Africa, Asia-Pacific and South Asia. 

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Additionally, Q1 2024 responses from the Global Risks Survey section of the GECS report demonstrate how the ripple effects of economic uncertainty have been exacerbated by rising geopolitical and talent scarcity challenges.

Respondents across all sectors and regions said that they are feeling the impact of talent retention risks, with numerous respondents describing the skills shortage as an epidemic. Cybersecurity is also viewed as a significant threat, especially with advancements in generative AI making ransomware and other cybercrimes increasingly easier and quicker to carry out.

Now over 10 years old, GECS – carried out jointly by ACCA and the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) – remains the world’s largest regular survey of accountants, both in terms of the number of respondents and the range of economic variables monitored.

GECS provides global and regional analysis of:

  • North America
  • Western Europe
  • Africa
  • Asia-Pacific
  • Middle East
  • South Asia.

Read the full report.