U.S. business leaders’ optimism on the rise; Greek outlook plummets

U.S., global investment expectations weak

CHICAGO--()--While optimism for the nation’s economic outlook among U.S. business leaders rose in second quarter 2015, optimism among Greek business leaders plummeted to its lowest level since fourth quarter 2012. This is according to the latest data from the Grant Thornton International Business Report (IBR), a survey of more than 2,500 business leaders in 36 countries.

“With optimism among U.S. business leaders on the rise, and so many other large economies reporting increased confidence, the global economy seems to be headed in the right direction”

In second quarter 2015, optimism for the economic outlook among U.S. business leaders rose 11 percentage points to net 54 percent. Eurozone confidence spiked to net 54 percent, a significant increase from net 34 percent last quarter. Confidence in the European Union increased to net 58 percent, a 20 percentage-point increase from last quarter, and well above pre-crisis highs. Although optimism is up in the European Union, confidence among Greek business leaders dropped significantly. There, optimism plummeted to net -38 percent, down 44 percentage points from last quarter. Confidence in China, the world’s second largest economy, increased to net 46 percent, up 12 percentage points from the previous quarter. Optimism among Brazilian business leaders dropped 6 percentage points to net -24 percent, marking the fifth consecutive quarter of decreased optimism. Globally, net 45 percent of businesses are optimistic, up 12 percentage points from the previous quarter. The most ambitious businesses are in Germany (net 92 percent), Ireland (net 90 percent), New Zealand (net 86 percent) and India (net 85 percent).

“With optimism among U.S. business leaders on the rise, and so many other large economies reporting increased confidence, the global economy seems to be headed in the right direction,” said Stephen Chipman, senior vice chair at Grant Thornton LLP. “Less encouraging, however, is that, though business confidence seems to have recovered, business leaders around the world are still seemingly hesitant to make long-term investment decisions.”

Globally, investment expectations remain weak. In second quarter 2015, global companies’ plans to invest in research and development dropped 5 percentage points to net 26 percent. Companies’ plans to invest in new buildings in the next 12 months dropped slightly to net 19 percent, down 3 percentage points from last quarter, while plans to invest in plants and machinery decreased 5 percentage points to net 27 percent. In the United States, companies’ plans to invest in research and development dropped 5 percentage points to net 32 percent, following a stagnate six-month period at net 37 percent. Companies’ plans to invest in new buildings in the next 12 months increased to net 26 percent, up just 3 percentage points from last quarter, while plans to invest in plants and machinery decreased 4 percentage points to net 20 percent.

Although optimism among U.S. business leaders has risen, sentiment about other areas of U.S. business performance and stability remains relatively unchanged. U.S. profitability expectations decreased 3 percentage points to net 65 percent, while revenue expectations decreased slightly to net 70 percent, down just 1 percentage point from last quarter. IBR data also reveals that U.S. hiring expectations remained relatively high at net 48 percent, down just 8 percentage points from last quarter. Pay raise expectations improved just 2 percentage points to net 10 percent of U.S. business leaders expecting to offer employees an above inflation pay raise in the next 12 months.

About Grant Thornton LLP

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Notes to editors

The Grant Thornton International Business Report (IBR) provides insight into the views and expectations of more than 10,000 businesses per year across 36 economies. This unique survey draws upon 22 years of trend data for most European participants and 11 years for many non-European economies. For more information, please visit: www.grantthornton.global/insights.

Data collection

Questionnaires are translated into local languages with each participating country having the option to ask a small number of country specific questions in addition to the core questionnaire. Fieldwork is undertaken on a quarterly basis. The research is carried out primarily by telephone. For percentages not identified as a percentage of respondents, the net percent balance is reported as the proportion of companies reporting they are optimistic/the trend has increased less those reporting they are pessimistic/trend has decreased.

Sample

IBR is a survey of both listed and privately held businesses. The data for this release are drawn from interviews with 2,580 businesses from all industry sectors across the globe conducted in May 2015. The target respondents are chief executive officers, managing directors, chairmen or other senior executives.

About Grant Thornton

Grant Thornton is one of the world's leading organisations of independent assurance, tax and advisory firms. These firms help dynamic organisations unlock their potential for growth by providing meaningful, forward looking advice. Proactive teams, led by approachable partners in these firms, use insights, experience and instinct to understand complex issues for privately owned, publicly listed and public sector clients and help them to find solutions. More than 35,000 Grant Thornton people, across over 100 countries, are focused on making a difference to clients, colleagues and the communities in which we live and work.

"Grant Thornton" refers to the brand under which the Grant Thornton member firms provide assurance, tax and advisory services to their clients and/or refers to one or more member firms, as the context requires. Grant Thornton International Ltd (GTIL) and the member firms are not a worldwide partnership. GTIL and each member firm is a separate legal entity. Services are delivered by the member firms. GTIL does not provide services to clients. GTIL and its member firms are not agents of, and do not obligate, one another and are not liable for one another's acts or omissions.

Contacts

Grant Thornton LLP
Adam Bond
T 312.602.8332
E adam.bond@us.gt.com

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