Consumers in many of the world’s major industrialised economies are pessimistic about economic prospects in their country, while those in emerging economies are much more upbeat, according to a new 25-nation poll for the BBC World Service.
The poll of 25,438 people was conducted by GlobeScan between July and September this year. Respondents were asked to say whether they expect good or bad economic times in the next year, and also over the next five years.
The poll shows that Japanese, British, and French consumers are among the most pessimistic across the countries polled. In Japan, only five per cent expect “good” or “mostly good” times, while 60 per cent expect “bad” or “mostly bad” times over the next year. There are similar levels of economic pessimism in the UK (eight per cent expecting “good” or “mostly good” times, over half (52 per cent) expecting “bad” or “mostly bad” times), and France (nine per cent “good / mostly good”, 51 per cent “bad / mostly bad”).
But consumers in other industrialised economies are also gloomy, with just 13 per cent of Australians and 16 per cent of Americans saying they expect “good” or “mostly good” times in the next year. Germans (36 per cent “good / mostly good”) and Canadians (28 per cent) are somewhat more optimistic. The 22 per cent of Spanish who are optimistic about the next year are outweighed by the 52 per cent who are pessimistic.
In contrast, those who expect “good” or “mostly good” economic times over the next year heavily outnumber pessimists in major emerging economies like Brazil (51 per cent optimistic, 20 per cent pessimistic), China (51 per cent vs 11 per cent), and India (51 per cent vs 22 per cent). The most optimistic countries polled are all in Africa, with 72 per cent of Nigerians, 57 per cent of Egyptians, 55 per cent of Kenyans, and 53 per cent of Ghanaians all expecting “good” or “mostly good” economic times.
This is the third year that the poll has measured economic confidence around the world. Focusing just on the change in consumer confidence since 2010, most of the countries seeing the biggest increases are in the developing world, with the biggest rises in Kenya (up 24 points since 2010), Mexico (up 23 points), Turkey (up 16), and Indonesia and Germany (each up 14). The proportions expecting good times have dropped in two countries—India (down 11 points since 2010) and Australia (down nine points). Economic confidence has been largely static over the same period in the UK (up one point) and other G7 economies like France (up one point), Canada (no change), the US (up three points), and Japan (down four points).
GlobeScan Chairman Doug Miller said, “The poll suggests citizens in many industrialised economies—most notably the UK and US—see their immediate and longer-term economic prospects as bleak, and the continuing Euro zone crisis will only be making matters worse. It also reveals continuing strong consumer confidence in emerging giants such as Brazil, India, and China.”
Despite continuing pessimism in the G7 nations, the last 12 months have seen a significant increase in those expecting “good” or “mostly good” economic times over the next year across the 18 countries polled each year since 2009, from 27 per cent to 32 per cent. Positive sentiment has increased in seven countries, is little changed in nine, and has decreased in two. Those expecting “bad” or “mostly bad” times over the next year have declined from 30 per cent in 2010 to 27 per cent in 2011.
When asked to think of the next five years, those polled are somewhat more optimistic, with 37 per cent expecting “continuously good” or “mostly good” economic times, up from 31 per cent a year earlier. The proportion expecting “continuously bad” or “mostly bad” times over the next five years has fallen from 26 per cent to 20 per cent. Egypt and Nigeria again emerge as the most optimistic countries, closely followed by China and Brazil. France, the UK, and Japan are again the most pessimistic about the next five years.