DAVOS, Switzerland: The latest annual PwC survey of 1,300 CEOs says only 37 percent think global economic growth will rise this year - a seven point drop from 2014.
Timed to coincide with last week's annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the results also suggest 17 percent of CEOs believe global economic growth will decline this year, up from seven percent a year ago.
However despite the debate in Davos, PwC says one notable issue of little or no concern among CEOs is the risk of climate change.
PwC says CEOs from the Asia/Pacific region are the most optimistic about the global economy with 45 percent anticipating improvement, followed by the Middle East (44 percent) and North America (37 percent). Only 16 percent of executives surveyed in Central and Eastern Europe expect an economic boost this year while 59 percent of those in India, China (46 percent) and Mexico (42 percent) remain more optimistic than those in the U.S. (29 percent) and Germany (33 percent).
Asked what worries them most, 78 percent of CEOs said over-regulation tops their list - up six points from last year and now at the highest level in the 18 years of the PwC survey. Countries with the most angst include Argentina (98 percent), Venezuela (96 percent), the U.S. (90 percent), Germany (90 percent), the UK (87 percent), and China (85 percent).
Some 67 percent of CEOs say the top priority of government should be maintaining a competitive and efficient tax system, but only 20 percent of them think their country is successful at doing so. Other government priorities for CEOs include physical infrastructure (49 percent), affordable capital (29 percent), and digital infrastructure (28 percent).
The survey also discovered that CEOs are using joint ventures, alliances and informal collaborations to gain a competitive edge - working with suppliers (41 percent), customers (41 percent), and academia (32 percent). The top reasons for collaboration are access to new customers, emerging technologies, new markets and innovation.
Commenting on the results, Dennis Nally, chairman of PwC International said: "CEO confidence is down notably in oil-producing nations around the world as a result of plummeting crude oil prices. Russia CEOs, for example, were the most confident in last year's survey, but are the least confident this year. Confidence also slipped among CEOs in the Middle East, Venezuela, and Nigeria."