The world’s business leaders are becoming more pessimistic about the outlook for the global economy, according to the latest quarterly Global Economic Confidence Barometer from Taylor Nelson Sofres and Deloitte Consulting.

Senior executives in Asia Pacific were most downbeat in the third quarter, with 45% believing worldwide conditions will worsen over the next year. The proportion saying things will improve tumbled 51% from Q2.

There was also heightened caution in Europe, where 19% of business leaders foresee a downturn in the next twelve months, up from 11% in Q2 and 10% in Q1. Those forecasting an improvement fell by 15%.

Curiously, given the raft of pessimistic economic data released in recent months, North America proved a bastion of optimism. Only 5% of respondents think things will worsen, while the proportion predicting an upturn jumped nearly 10% from Q2.

The survey polls over 600 senior executives every quarter at companies in Europe, Asia Pacific and North America.

Other findings include:

• The number of respondents from companies generating under $1 billion (€1bn; £0.6bn) in annual revenue who believe conditions will deteriorate jumped 19% from Q2, making them nearly twice as pessimistic as their counterparts at $3bn-plus firms.

• Executives in the heavy industry sector are most downbeat, with 37% forecasting decline in the next twelve months. In contrast, only 12% of financial services respondents take this view.

• The most consistently optimistic countries are France and Switzerland, whereas confidence has fluctuated most in Britain and the Benelux nations.

Data sourced from: Daily Research News Online; additional content by WARC staff