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Executives wary of global political change

Geopolitical concerns persist among global executives, but they increasingly view political transitions and policy changes as the pressing risks

The latest McKinsey & Company Global Survey reveals an increasing optimism among nearly a thousand business leaders about the immediate future for the economy.

The management consulting company’s online poll, that led to responses from 957 participants over five days in early March, represented what McKinsey called “the full range of regions, industries, company sizes, functional specialties and tenures”.

Economic conditions outlook, March 2024” reported increased confidence in the economy – globally and at home.

While geopolitical concerns persisted, respondents increasingly viewed developments at a political and governmental level as the pressing risks for the future.

It comes in a year in which more than 60 countries are expected to hold national elections. Respondents increasingly see political developments as a primary hazard to the global economy.

The study said: “Transitions of political leadership have jumped from the fifth-most-cited to the second-most-cited threat to the world economy.

“The share of respondents in Europe reporting political transitions as a top threat is 2.4 times the share in December, while the shares in North America and Asia–Pacific have nearly doubled.

“We see a smaller uptick in concern about supply chain disruptions, which is cited as a threat by the largest share of respondents since December 2022.”

But the outlook on domestic conditions in most regions has become more hopeful, McKinsey said, despite ongoing shared concerns about geopolitical instability and conflicts.

“In a year brimming with national elections, respondents increasingly see transitions of political leadership as a primary hazard to the global economy, particularly in Asia–Pacific, Europe and North America.”

Respondents in a December questionnaire were just as likely to say the global economy had improved as it had worsened. But in the latest poll, respondents are twice as likely to report improving rather than deteriorating conditions.

They are more optimistic about the coming six months than they were in the earlier survey, when about 37 per cent expected improvement.

Now, 46 per cent expect the global economy to improve – nearly double the share of those expecting worsening conditions.

For the first time in two years, more than half of respondents expect their individual economies to improve over the next two quarters.

The survey commentary said: “Looking at risks to growth in respondents’ countries, geopolitical instability and conflict remains the top perceived threat, cited by a larger share than in any quarter since March 2022.

“Uneasiness about domestic political conflicts and transitions of political leadership, now the second- and third-most-cited risks, have overtaken concerns about inflation, which was the second-most-cited risk in December.

“Among respondents in North America, transitions of political leadership are cited nearly twice as often as in December.

“In Greater China, multiple risks now appear to carry equal weight, whereas in December, inflation was the top concern.”

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Published April 08, 2024 at 7:58 am (Updated April 08, 2024 at 7:14 am)

Executives wary of global political change

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