September 17th, 2014
04:26 PM ET

World remains glum about economic prospects

By Bruce Stokes, Special to CNN

Editor's note: Bruce Stokes is the director of the Pew Research Center’s Global Economic Attitudes. The views expressed are solely those of the author.

Six years since the beginning of the Great Recession and publics around the world remain glum about the state of their economy and prospects for an economic recovery. In most nations, people say their country is heading in the wrong direction and most voice the view that economic conditions are bad, according to a new 44 country survey by the Pew Research Center conducted among 48,643 respondents from March 17 to June 5, 2014.

A global median of 60 percent see their country’s economy performing poorly, largely unchanged from last year. People in advanced economies, such as the United States and France, are slightly more negative than those in emerging markets. Only in developing economies is there some semblance of satisfaction with current national economic performance: 51 percent voice the view that their economy is doing well.

Those who see their economy in the most negative light are the Greeks (97 percent say economic conditions are bad), Italians (96 percent), Spanish (93 percent) and Ukrainians (93 percent). In the U.S., 58 percent are of the opinion that the American economy is not doing well; only 40 percent say its performance is good. Those most positive about their national economic conditions are the Chinese, Vietnamese and Germans, where more than 80 percent are upbeat.

In a half dozen countries, economic attitudes have soured in the last year. In 2013, a majority of Brazilians (59 percent) said their economy was doing well. Today only one third hold this view, a 27 percentage point drop in economic confidence. With a presidential election coming up in October, this cannot be good for the incumbent government. There has also been a 15 point decline in positive views of the economy in Venezuela and 13 point drop-offs in Argentina and Malaysia.

But, over the last year, the economic mood has brightened in a number of nations. In 2013 in the United Kingdom and Pakistan, only 15 percent and 17 percent of the public, respectively, thought the economy was doing well. In 2014, British assessments of their economic conditions are now up 28 points. Pakistanis’ economic frame of mind has improved by 20 points. Double digit improvements in economic mood are also found in Uganda, Israel, Indonesia, South Korea, Russia, Chile and Germany.

Expectations for the future of national economies are a bit more positive overall. A global median of 46 percent sees their economy picking up over the next year.

Regionally, people in Africa and Latin America are the most hopeful about the coming year, while nearly half of Asians agree. But only a quarter of Europeans expect economic conditions to improve.

The most optimistic nation is China (80 percent). But there are also high expectations in the Latin American nations of Peru and Colombia. The greatest rise in economic optimism has been in the U.K., where 45 percent are optimistic – a 23 point rise in a hopeful view of the future since 2013. A majority of Indonesians and Ugandans also expect their economy to perform better over the next year, with such confidence up 18 points and 15 points, respectively, since last year.

The greatest pessimists can be found in Greece, France, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories.

Americans are almost evenly divided about the economy’s trajectory: 35 percent are hopeful of improvement, 33 percent expect more of the same and 30 percent see conditions worsening. But there is a partisan divide in these views: 54 percent of Democrats expect economic conditions to improve, while just under half of Republicans anticipate that they will worsen.

But the greatest nosedive in optimism about the economy over the next 12 months has been in Japan, where just 15 percent foresee their economy improving, down from 40 percent who were hopeful a year ago, hardly an endorsement of Abenomics.

The public mood about the economy reflects recent economic conditions. Global growth slowed in the first quarter of 2014, immediately prior to the survey. At 2.75 percent, it was down a full percentage point from the growth experienced in the second half of 2013, according to the International Monetary Fund. Some nations, especially advanced economies, such as Japan, Germany, Spain, and the U.K., performed better than expected. But their success was outweighed by disappointing growth in China and the U.S. And weak demand in those economies sapped economic growth in emerging markets, where success is often driven by exports to the U.S. and China.

So, until economies pick up across the board, it may be difficult to see the global economic mood improve much. But therein lies much of the problem. As long as people are glum about the economy, they may be reluctant to spend and invest. And such reluctance may make it harder for the economy to attain lift off speed.

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soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. rupert

    As with most of the rest of the world, this country is running head long in the wrong direction. Some people are right now predicting another stock market crash like the one in 2008 and all those idiots in Washington can do is give us war, war and more war!

    September 17, 2014 at 4:37 pm |
    • rupert

      I thought I told u to stop using my name,dirt bag.
      Make like a tree and leave

      September 17, 2014 at 9:16 pm |
    • George patton

      Well put, rupert (4:37). Another crash will be no surprise to me. However, this won't hurt the politicians in Washington as they continue to make money off these stupid wars of theirs.

      September 18, 2014 at 10:54 am |
      • rupert

        Oh. So its u george. Should've know.
        U dirt bag. Sarah palin tea partier

        September 18, 2014 at 10:08 pm |
  2. Allan Kinsman©

    In the last global financial crisis it was a cleverly constructed fraud. Now those who did not contribute to it are paying for it by fed policies. We seem certain when war must be inacted but less certain when it is injustice we must confront. It is a overall political leadership which has led to the unstable world we see whether we are concerned about money or foreign policy. It is missing integrity which leads to failure of civilization. We can see the evidence but we have to get past believing what we are told.

    September 17, 2014 at 6:10 pm |
    • awesome comment, Allan!

      yes indeed, Allan, you have nailed it, again! My mother always taught me that CHARACTER is composed of: Morals, Values, Integrity, Decency and Hard Work..... this used to be taught to all Americans, waaaaay back, in them good old days......... when the "Protestant Work Ethic" actually meant something..... most kids nowadays have no clue whatsoever about what the Protestant Work Ethic means...... in fact, they have never even HEARD of it........ 🙁

      September 17, 2014 at 7:02 pm |
  3. Ferhat Balkan

    "The most optimistic nation is China". Is that suppose to surprise anyone? I appreciate the article and the statistics, but when large corporations and companies decided to sell out jobs to China, it doesn't take a economics professor to figure out who's the winner and who's the looser. Basically, our corrupt governments paid by the large corporations screwed the rest of us and decided to cash in on cheap labor. This is part of the reason why we have huge unemployment and a shrinking middle class, while China's middle class is growing exponentially.

    September 17, 2014 at 11:25 pm |
  4. what was that sound we just heard???

    zoooooooooooommmmmmmmmm........... what was that sound we just heard.......... oh, never mind, I see it now......... it was that high speed train from Shanghai to Guangzhou, that just cruised past us, at 180 mph......... just like their economy it about to do also............ while we in the US still plod along with 100 year old train tracks and 50 year old trains, max speed 60 mph........ glum economies??? are you kidding Fareed??? All the 14 countries in Asia are booming and have been booming for 20 years now......... but, on the other hand, 50 western countries have been glum, glum, glum......... hmmmmmmmmmmmm........... I wonder why???

    September 18, 2014 at 12:18 am |
    • Allan Kinsman©

      Politics has been looking out for itself seems the most direct response.

      September 18, 2014 at 12:57 am |
    • bob

      Hey girllllllll you're so right

      September 24, 2014 at 10:07 am |
  5. Thomas

    Vladimir Putin must be having a hard day today after reading this economic outlook .

    He's going to need to use all the talents he learned as a KGB officer to find the right propaganda to make these numbers sound good .

    September 18, 2014 at 2:32 am |
  6. Thomas

    @Ferhat Balkan
    "The most optimistic nation is China". Is that suppose to surprise anyone?


    If you want to wear a mask to breath , drink polluted water and swim in algae .

    This must be why most Chines prefer to reside in British Columbia of California .

    September 18, 2014 at 2:36 am |
    • Ferhat Balkan

      Indeed, but the question is about economic outlook. Unfortunately, China seems to have a better economic future than the rest of us.

      September 18, 2014 at 6:23 pm |
  7. Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

    It is almost futile to consider global economic prospects because most humans do not want to examine the basic economic problems realistically: they prefer to discuss how justice and egalitarianism would create prosperity, and they are encouraged by government propaganda to do so.

    September 18, 2014 at 6:07 am |
  8. Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

    In my country, the USA, a few wise and very industrious persons will continue to thrive, unless all of them are murdered in a revolution. The majority of the USA is on an economic decline like the life of a drug addict: it will get worse until it hits bottom, and then it will either begin to recover or die.

    September 18, 2014 at 6:21 am |
    • George patton

      The problem here is globalization of the world's economy. Whoever thought it up needs to have their head examined. When one country falls into a depression, it takes all the others down with it and thus a vicious cycle begins.

      September 18, 2014 at 10:19 am |
  9. chri§§y

    Exactly @ George Patton...not to mention those American traitors invest their ill gotten gains in other parts of the world.

    September 18, 2014 at 2:10 pm |
  10. Allan Kinsman©

    The global economy was an invention of business to increase their profitability by moving labor(there most expensive cost) to a cheaper source. In theory this sounds great but a poorly thought out consumerism ideology. Working well until exported jobs empty the source of those who consume the most, Americans. We all can see the beginnings, Detroit, once the hub of the Auto industry now the picked over bones of the world economy. This is only the beginnings. All the while we borrow monies from foreign loan sharks to fight wars about something else we don't own.

    September 18, 2014 at 3:33 pm |
  11. chri§§y

    Good post @ Allan. But Detroit is starting to come back. Maybe not the auto industry so much but other industries are making their way here!

    September 18, 2014 at 3:52 pm |
    • Allan Kinsman©

      Detroit is coming back because people live there and there is no other way to go. And, a few individuals have realized a lot can be done with the courage to try an honest direct approach. It would work well elsewhere also. Dishonest politics has milked much from the cities, put corporate priorities ahead of people and foreign policy. The forces which shape government are self oriented with short term goals. Most of America these days are not on any list of help coming their way. And, I for one express my point of view because silence got us here.

      September 18, 2014 at 4:27 pm |
  12. chri§§y

    In spite of the "Bad news Billionaires" schemeing to have their way with Detroit! Detroit showed the Koch brothers to the exit door so that was a good thing...Detroit pride is a very hard thing to break and Detroit is quickly making its way out of bankruptcy! And we finally have a GOOD mayor...Mayor Duggan kudo's to him!!!

    September 18, 2014 at 4:14 pm |
  13. LaBella

    🎶Money, get away
    Get a good job with more pay and your O.K.
    Money it's a gas
    Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash
    New car, caviar, four star daydream,
    Think I'll buy me a football team
    Money get back
    I'm all right Jack keep your hands off my stack.
    Money it's a hit
    Don't give me that do goody good b[...]t
    I'm in the hi-fidelity first class traveling set
    And I think I need a Lear jet
    Money it's a crime
    Share it fairly but don't take a slice of my pie
    Money so they say
    Is the root of all evil today
    But if you ask for a rise it's no surprise that they're
    giving none away

    September 18, 2014 at 4:36 pm |
    • Allan Kinsman©

      Thanks Roger.

      September 18, 2014 at 6:29 pm |
      • LaBella

        No prob. Always topical, I am.

        September 18, 2014 at 8:53 pm |
  14. chri§§y

    True again @ Allan! Politicians have abused Detroit for decades, so im sure its not an isolated incident!

    September 18, 2014 at 5:56 pm |
  15. chri§§y

    True again @ Ferhat. Time to get the clown posse in Congress OFF their collective dupa's and do something FOR this country. Theyve done too much AGAINST this country and its citizens already! And THATS saying something since they havent done an honest days work in almost a decade. Possibly longer!!!

    September 18, 2014 at 9:20 pm |
  16. chri§§y

    And i dont know your feelings about THAT @ Ferhat but it really grinds the he!! outta me! My work weeks were minimum 70 hours plus, while raising my 3 kids and then 2 of my sisters 2 after her death...AND partime school. And i guarantee i didnt earn 20% what those jokers get paid! Makes me mad as he!! that they cant DO something! Ok well i do take that back...they DID vote theirselves a raise didnt they? WoofreakinHoo!

    September 18, 2014 at 9:26 pm |
    • Ferhat Balkan

      chri§§y, I wrote quite a bit in response to your comment above, but it seems CNN's filters once again denied me the post. Anyways, I agree with you fully. The problem is corruption and it must go if this country is to survive the economic downfall.

      September 19, 2014 at 1:36 am |
  17. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    If only we quit throwing money at the riff-raft in Syria and that Neo-Nazi Poroshenko in Ukraine and prepare for the upcoming crash, we may save the national economy from sinking into another depression. In other words, we need to boot all the right-wing idiots out of Washington. That won't happen, unfortunately!

    September 19, 2014 at 12:46 am |
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

      @ My Troll:
      You don't know the difference between MAY and MIGHT.

      September 19, 2014 at 6:48 am |
      • Joey Isotta-Fraschini

        Are you trying to take up for those idiotic, right-wing politicians in Washington, Joey? When it comes to wasting tax payer money, these people are to most liberal on earth!

        September 19, 2014 at 8:49 am |
      • Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

        You will never convince me that President Obama is either liberal or idiotic. I admire him enormously.
        HILLARY 2016!

        September 19, 2014 at 9:17 am |
      • Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

        BIG ERROR.
        I meant, convince me that Obama is RIGHT WING!
        Obama is very, very liberal.

        September 19, 2014 at 9:22 am |
  18. chri§§y

    Lol @ had me thinkin for a second, what the ??? Lol

    September 19, 2014 at 10:57 am |
  19. The Master Guns

    My compensation at Intel took a big hit this year when Intel cut their retirement contribution by 1% as their profits grew. Plus Intel purposefully maintains their pay to keep pace with the slowing growth of pay here.

    October 12, 2014 at 12:00 pm |

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