ACCA Canada

ACCA Canada

July 26, 2012 19:05 ET

Global Survey of Accountants Points to China Slowdown, Countries 'Lack of Policy Options'

Finance professionals in Canada report some worrying trends

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - July 26, 2012) - The global economic recovery has slowed down again in early 2012, according to a worldwide survey of finance professionals who fear that governments already living beyond their means may struggle to get back on track through extra public spending.

The Global Economic Conditions Survey (GECS) for the second quarter of 2012, undertaken by ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) and IMA (the Institute of Management Accountants), cautioned that growth across the world's most developed economies has stalled once again and that the global economy is as fragile as it has ever been in the last three years. The global survey of 2,700 professional accountants, now well into its third year, suggests that hints of a stronger recovery in early 2012 were mostly down to misplaced optimism, and that most of the gains made at the time have since been reversed.

China's slowing economy has dominated the survey findings this quarter, although ACCA and IMA stress that there are few signs of the hard landing many commentators had feared. That said, both confidence and investment are falling despite increasing business opportunities. Survey editor Manos Schizas, Senior Economic Analyst with ACCA said: "The point now is to see how far and how fast the Chinese slowdown will travel. Our members in Africa tend to feel any fallout from Asia fairly quickly, and there could be implications for other markets which trade with China."

According to the survey, the flip side of the Chinese slowdown is a recovery for the U.S. economy, where investment is on the rise and confidence is high, despite significant potential problems.

With growth faltering once again, the finance professionals surveyed by ACCA and IMA are rethinking their attitudes towards public spending. However, the policy choice is not quite so simple. Accountants working in major markets such as the USA, China, Russia, Malaysia, or Pakistan - economies relied on by others for trade and export opportunities - believe that fiscal stimulus by their governments is already unsustainable. It was in only a few markets that respondents believed that their governments could spend both robustly and sustainably - places such as Singapore, or the UAE.

Manos Schizas said: "Finance professionals who responded to this survey were quite at ease with the prospect of austerity until mid-2010. Then the recovery failed to take off and everything changed. Relatively few believe their governments can make austerity work, even in countries such as Ireland where it has been executed quite successfully. This time there is a limit to what even countries with strong credit ratings and no liquidity constraints, such as the USA and China, can do."

The situation in Canada

Since late 2011, business confidence in Canada has stabilized substantially; while 15% of respondents reported confidence gains in the second quarter of 2012, down only marginally from 16% in late 2011, only 36% reported a loss of confidence, down from 45%. Smaller businesses in particular appear to have grown in confidence in the first quarter of 2012 and largely held on to those gains since then.

Respondents' views of the global economy have changed more substantially, and for the better. In late 2011, 68% of respondents felt that the global economy was deteriorating or stagnating; now only 53% believe this.

That said, finance professionals in Canada are reporting some worrying trends. Business revenues appear to be weakening for the last nine months; late payment and customer failures appear to be on the rise. Fortunately, investment is proving resilient, and so is employment. In light of these trends it is not surprising that, on balance, respondents feel that Canada is increasingly pursuing an unsustainable austerity program.

Here is the link to the full report: http://www.accaglobal.com/content/dam/acca/global/PDF-technical/global-economy/tech-ms-gec14.pdf.

Table 1: GECS Confidence index across regions and in selected markets
Much more confident More confident No change Less confident Much less confident Index
Americas 4.9% 21.3% 41.0% 24.8% 8.0% -6.6
Middle East 5.8% 22.2% 40.4% 22.8% 8.8% -3.5
Asia Pacific 1.6% 12.6% 38.8% 36.1% 11.0% -33.0
CEE .6% 10.9% 51.9% 28.8% 7.7% -25.0
South Asia 3.8% 17.0% 36.8% 32.1% 10.4% -21.7
Western Europe 2.1% 13.8% 42.9% 29.8% 11.4% -25.3
Africa 9.3% 24.3% 31.7% 27.3% 7.3% -1.0
Australia 2.4% 14.3% 45.2% 28.6% 9.5% -21.4
Canada 5.4% 9.5% 48.6% 29.7% 6.8% -21.6
China ex HK 4.7% 17.4% 37.2% 36.0% 4.7% -18.6
Cyprus 6.5% 39.1% 32.6% 21.7% -47.8
Hong Kong 1.1% 1.1% 32.6% 48.3% 16.9% -62.9
Ireland 1.6% 15.4% 43.4% 29.7% 9.9% -22.5
Malaysia .9% 11.0% 38.5% 37.6% 11.9% -37.6
Mauritius 3.3% 13.1% 36.1% 41.0% 6.6% -31.1
Pakistan 3.1% 14.1% 35.9% 34.4% 12.5% -29.7
Russia 10.0% 55.0% 30.0% 5.0% -25.0
Singapore 12.5% 43.8% 32.5% 11.3% -31.3
UK 2.4% 13.2% 42.9% 31.1% 10.5% -26.0
UAE 4.8% 30.2% 38.1% 19.0% 7.9% 7.9
USA 5.2% 24.4% 39.3% 23.0% 8.1% -1.4
Total 3.7% 17.0% 40.6% 29.0% 9.7% -17.9
Table 2: GECS Recovery index across regions and in selected markets
It's getting better We are at the bottom and things will now start to improve We are at the bottom and will remain there for a while It's getting worse Don't know Index
Americas 24.1% 17.6% 33.9% 18.6% 5.8% -10.7
Middle East 30.2% 16.3% 30.2% 17.4% 5.8% -1.2
Asia Pacific 15.0% 10.0% 22.8% 42.4% 9.8% -40.2
CEE 19.9% 6.4% 33.3% 32.7% 7.7% -39.7
South Asia 24.5% 17.0% 27.4% 27.4% 3.8% -13.2
Western Europe 6.7% 11.0% 45.0% 34.0% 3.2% -61.4
Africa 26.2% 19.2% 20.2% 32.1% 2.3% -7.0
Australia 7.1% 7.1% 45.2% 35.7% 4.8% -66.7
Canada 28.4% 16.2% 25.7% 27.0% 2.7% -8.1
China ex HK 24.1% 19.5% 16.1% 34.5% 5.7% -6.9
Cyprus 2.2% 6.5% 28.3% 63.0% -82.6
Hong Kong 8.9% 5.6% 21.1% 53.3% 11.1% -60.0
Ireland 4.4% 15.9% 51.1% 24.2% 4.4% -54.9
Malaysia 13.8% 4.6% 23.9% 45.0% 12.8% -50.5
Mauritius 13.1% 13.1% 34.4% 37.7% 1.6% -45.9
Pakistan 23.4% 15.6% 28.1% 29.7% 3.1% -18.8
Russia 32.5% 2.5% 25.0% 30.0% 10.0% -20.0
Singapore 13.8% 11.3% 20.0% 42.5% 12.5% -37.5
UK 7.4% 9.9% 46.8% 32.5% 3.3% -62.0
UAE 27.0% 19.0% 30.2% 17.5% 6.3% -1.6
USA 25.7% 17.0% 36.2% 15.5% 5.6% -9.1
Total 17.3% 13.6% 33.7% 30.1% 5.3% -32.9

Notes to Editors

  1. ACCA is not affiliated with any chartered accountant (CA) organization.
  2. ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is the global body for professional accountants. We aim to offer business-relevant, first-choice qualifications to people of application, ability and ambition around the world who seek a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management.
  3. We support our 154,000 members and 432,000 students in 170 countries, helping them to develop successful careers in accounting and business, with the skills required by employers. We work through a network of over 80 offices and centres and more than 8,500 Approved Employers worldwide, who provide high standards of employee learning and development. Through our public interest remit, we promote appropriate regulation of accounting and conduct relevant research to ensure accountancy continues to grow in reputation and influence.
  4. ACCA Canada has around 2,100 members and 1,000 students in Canada.
  5. About IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants)
    IMA®, the association of accountants and financial professionals in business, is one of the largest and most respected associations focused exclusively on advancing the management accounting profession. Globally, IMA supports the profession through research, certification, continuing education, networking, and advocacy of the highest ethical business practices. IMA has a global network of more than 60,000 members in 120 countries and 200 local chapter communities.

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