Global CEOs lack confidence in 2013

Caution and concern on display at Davos

    Just Watched

    Caution and concern on display at Davos

Caution and concern on display at Davos 03:41

Story highlights

  • Confidence of global CEOs falls for second year in row, says auditing firm PwC
  • Only 36% of global CEOs feel "very confident" headed into 2013
  • CEOs in Western Europe, North America, Asia, Africa less confident in short-term growth
  • Only CEOs in Latin America saw slight rise in confidence

For the second year in a row, the confidence of global CEOs in their company's growth has fallen, according to the 16th Global CEO Survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the global auditing firm.

Only 36% of CEOs surveyed around the world feel "very confident" headed into 2013. CEO confidence has been steadily eroding the past two years; in 2011, 48% of CEOs surveyed were very confident, sliding to 40% last year.

"I was actually surprised this year. I would have said that I think things are getting better," said PwC's Chairman Dennis Nally in an interview with CNN's Richard Quest.

"I think Europe is getting better. I think the issues in the United States are getting better. We avoided the fiscal cliff. I think you saw growth rates coming out of China in the fourth quarter which are much more positive than what many had predicted so I would have been, quite frankly, more optimistic than what our survey results suggest."

The PwC report, released at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, also found that just more than half -- 52% -- of CEOs surveyed thought the 2013 global economic environment would stay the same, up four points from 2012. More than one in four believe it will deteriorate; less than 20% think it will improve.

Uncertainty in the air at Davos

    Just Watched

    Uncertainty in the air at Davos

Uncertainty in the air at Davos 01:01
Weber: Political moves could scare market

    Just Watched

    Weber: Political moves could scare market

Weber: Political moves could scare market 01:32
Emerging markets in Davos

    Just Watched

    Emerging markets in Davos

Emerging markets in Davos 02:07

"I would sum it up by saying I think we're in a period which is a stubborn recovery," says Nally. "Many have said that this recovery should have been more fast-paced."

That sentiment is nearly ubiquitous for short-term growth around the world, according to the PwC survey, with CEOs in North America, Asia-Pacific and Africa all registering falls in confidence -- most with double-digit percentage drops. Only Latin American CEOs saw their confidence rise.

Western European CEOs were the least confident of all -- just 22% were "very confident of growth", down from 39% in 2011.

"I think Europe has done a great job over the last six months managing its way through the crisis," says PwC's Nally. (But) they're not out of it yet."

      World Economic Forum 2013

    • The congress center is pictured on January 22, 2013 at the Swiss resort of Davos. The World Economic Forum (WEF) will take place from 23 to the 27 of January.

      Global policymakers, leading thinkers and key entrepreneurs are gathering in Davos. CNN brings you the latest news, views and musings live.
    • Free trade, transparency and a crackdown on tax cheats will be at the heart of Britain's G8 presidency, Prime Minister David Cameron told the World Economic Forum in Davos.
    • The mayor of London says a controversial vote for the British people whether to stay in the European Union is all part of democracy.
    • davos quest olli rehn finance EU_00034014.jpg

      A top European Union official says there's no need for Britain to make threats to leave the union in order to reform its membership.
    • Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga says his country will not negotiate with al Qaeda-linked Somali militants who have threatened to kill Kenyan hostages unless Nairobi releases all Muslims charged with terrorism.
    • marketplace europe davos fabrice bregier airbus_00002524.jpg

      The head of Airbus says the European aviation giant will take care to learn from its own mistakes -- and rival Boeing's -- ahead of the launch of its new widebody A350 aircraft.
    • To go with China-Environment-Climate-Rivers by Robert Saiget Ice melts in the source region of China's Yellow River outside of Maduo on the Qinghai-Tibet plateau, known as the 'Roof of the World', on April 19, 2010, in northwestern Qinghai province. Global warming and environmental degradation on the Qinghai-Tibet plateau are cutting into water resources for Asia's mightiest rivers including the Yangtze, Yellow and Mekong, experts say, as melting glaciers and permafrost along the mountain ranges are leading to erosion of the plateau's grasslands and wetlands. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

      As extreme weather events cost the global economy billions each year, the "neglected" risk of climate change seems to be rising to the top of the agenda, Andrew Steer writes.
    • The recession in Europe is entering its fifth year and unemployment doesn't look like it will be returning to normal levels anytime soon.
    • US tycoon Donald Trump (C) is escorted by Scottish pipers as he officially opens his new multi-million pound Trump International Golf Links course in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, on July 10, 2012.

      What has been made clear by current events and financial upheavals since 2008 is that the global economy has become truly that -- global.
    • Tourists enjoy the summer on the main beach of Croatia's central Adriatic resort of Dubrovnik on June 27, 2009.

      On July 1, 2013 the 27-nation European Union will become 28. But is the Adriatic country ready to join Europe's elite club?