Is it confidence or cognitive dissonance? While CEOs are significantly more pessimistic about the global economy’s growth prospects than they were last year, they remain just as confident that their own company’s revenues will grow, according to PwC’s 18th Annual Global CEO Survey.
Learn more about shifts in the global economy from Fortune’s video team:
Results of the survey of more 1,300 CEOs worldwide were released on Tuesday at the opening of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland.
Only 37% of CEOs surveyed think that global economic growth will improve in 2015, a drop from the 44% who made the same prediction last year. Seventeen percent of the CEOs who participated in this year’s study believe that global economic growth will decline — more than twice as many as last year’s 7%. Meanwhile, like last year, 39% said they are “very confident” that their companies will see revenue growth over the next 12 months.
CEO confidence varied by region. Chief executives in Asia Pacific expressed the most optimism about the global economy, with 45% predicting improvement, compared with 16% in Central and Eastern Europe. North American CEOs fell in the middle, with 37% expecting to see global economic growth.
Regarding CEOs’ predictions for their own companies, the geographic pattern held up: 45% of CEOs in Asia Pacific expected their companies’ revenue to grow, compared to 30% in Central and Eastern Europe who expressed the same sentiment. In North America, 43% of CEOs anticipated revenue growth for their companies. Also expressing confidence on both measures were CEOs in the Middle East, where 44% predicted both improvements in global economic growth and their own revenue growth.
Country-by-country, CEOs in India were most optimistic: 59% expect improvements in global economic growth in 2015 and 62% anticipate their companies to grow. And in the U.S., CEOs are more confident about their companies than they are about the world: 29% see a better year for the global economy, and 46% predict a good year for their companies.
The U.S. was rated the most important growth market, overtaking China for the first time since the survey began asking the question five years ago. Thirty-eight percent of CEOs see the U.S. as among their top-three overseas growth markets, compared to 34% who view China in the same way.
Other noteworthy findings: 78% of CEOs consider excessive government regulation their biggest concern, especially chief executives in Argentina (98%), Venezuela (96%), and the U.S. (90%). They are also cautiously eyeing digital technology, with 58% saying they are concerned about the speed at which technology changes — up from 47% last year. And while only 64% of CEOs say their organization has a diversity and inclusiveness strategy, 85% of those that do have one claim that it has increased their bottom line.