Trade war between the US and China, the threat of a Brexit without agreement, geopolitical tensions, the cooling of the economy and, in case the international scene is insufficient, in Spain political uncertainty continues to increase after the announcement of new general elections next November 10. With this map, it is not surprising that the confidence of Spanish businessmen regarding the country's economy has suffered in the last six months.
This is reflected in the latest International Business Report , published every six months by Grant Thornton , and that the optimism of the respondents fell slightly to 10% in the first half of the year, compared to 11% recorded in the previous semester. The figure represents the lowest level since 2013, coinciding with the start of recovery after the last major crisis.
"National factors add to a growing scenario of international economic and political instability. The uncertainty of our businessmen connects with the uncertainty before an increasingly real Brexit without agreement; by how Europe's commercial activity can be affected in the face of the commercial war between China and the United States or because of the rising price of oil. Globally, this uncertainty certainly points to the growing fear of a recession, "adds Alejandro Martínez Borrel , president of Grant Thornton.
Although trust is maintained, entrepreneurs are worried about the impact this situation may have on their companies, something that has raised their level of economic uncertainty from 46% to 49% in just six months. That is, almost half of the managers surveyed are restless. "This increase has been supported by the political uncertainty that Spain has been experiencing since last April and, without a doubt, could contribute in the coming months to the slowdown to which some internal and external indicators begin to point, especially after a scenario of new elections, "explains Carlos Fernández , consultant and expert economist at the firm.
In general, 80% of Spanish respondents continue to rely on the good evolution of their business over the next 12 months, but in particular, their perception of some fundamental variables of the labor and business market worsens. For example, profit forecasts fall from 31% to 23%, as do job creation prospects and expectations to increase exports.
Job creation expectations marked their worst data since 2014, again at the beginning of the recovery; Only 18% expect to expand their workforce in the next year and 39% also perceive that there is a lack of qualified workforce for the positions they offer, compared to 17% who thought it a year ago.
"Labor costs in Spain have increased by 2.4% in the second quarter, both due to the increase in the Minimum Professional Salary and that of salaries in general. This evolution occurs in an environment of caution about growth expectations. Both factors could explain the worst prospects of companies in their hiring forecasts, "says Fernández.
As for exports , expectations of increasing them fell by 50% compared to the average of 2018, standing at 18%, in contrast to the stability offered by the world average.
"This semester will be key to clear political uncertainty and see if the degree of optimism of our businessmen aligns or not with the still positive perspectives that both the Bank of Spain, as Brussels or the IMF are offering and that in recent months they have forecast an average growth of our economy between 2.4% and 2.2%, forecasts that, however, could be gradually affected by an environment of greater global uncertainty, "says Martínez Borrell.
The survey, which is conducted globally from 5,000 interviews with senior executives from more than 30 countries, 400 of them in Spain, also echoes the perception of international entrepreneurs.
The level of optimism in the European Union and globally fell between two and seven points between January and June, respectively, standing at 26% and 32%. "In the case of global optimism, its data is the worst in three years," says the report.
It also highlights the optimism data in the United Kingdom , which has risen three points and stands at 13% (anyway, well below the previous data before the referendum). Italy records the worst data of the main economies of our environment (8%) while Germany , on the other hand, is predominantly optimistic (42%). In France , as in the United Kingdom, the data has improved by six points compared to the second half of 2018, reaching 29%.
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