Amid Uncertainty, Cracks Appear in Global Economic Confidence
Consumers around the globe are exhibiting signs of economic stress according to the Global Economic Confidence survey undertaken by IRIS, the global network of independently owned market research firms. The IRIS network interviewed 12,436 people in twenty-three countries and found that more than half of global citizens agree that current economic conditions are the worst they have seen in their lifetime.
As each new day yields fresh headlines about protectionist trade policies and volatility in economic markets, it is hard to imagine that consumers feel particularly confident these days. Yet, while North American and Northern European consumers are generally feeling optimistic about their purchasing power, those in South America and Southern Europe are not feeling as confident about being able to buy the things they want and need. This global divide is one reflection of worldwide financial anxiety.
While the context, conditions , and contributors eroding global economic confidence vary from region to region, consumers around the globe say that their household is having a more difficult time making ends meet, they are concerned about job security, and believe governments are not doing enough to address these economic challenges.
Question: Considering the cost of things today, as well as your present financial situation, do you think now is a good time or a bad time to buy things you want and need?
Consumers Around The World Are Exhibiting Signs Of Personal Financial Strain, Which Is Impacting Global Spending
This financial anxiety is taking hold of everyday decisions for many consumers. With nearly half of households around the world having trouble making ends meet, trade-offs between essential and discretionary spending will become more and more commonplace.
While the decision to dine out less frequently or make clothes last a little longer may signal headwinds for certain consumer sectors, the decision to hold off seeing a doctor or to give less to charity could have a lasting impact on general social welfare.
In the longer term, lingering concerns around job security could have significant impact on corporate profits. Nearly half (43%) of households around the world are concerned that someone in their household may lose their job in the next six months. Anxious employees may be less likely to take risks that fuel innovation, while distracted ones may be less productive.
Question: Agree/Disagree. My household is struggling to make ends meet.
These concerns are leading to widespread reductions in spending on discretionary items such as clothing, restaurants and charitable giving, as well as cuts to spending on essentials such as food, shelter and, in some cases, needed medicine.
Question: Which, if any, of the following have you experienced as a result of the current economic situation?
There Is A Belief That Things Will Get Worse Before They Get Better
Based on reports of the inverted yield curve and other trends, many armchair economists are predicting recession. Most feel that the economy of their country is currently in a recession, or will be in the coming months; and more than half view current economic conditions as the worst in their lifetime. Consumers are more likely to see the economy of their country getting weaker rather than getting stronger.
This anxiety may be driving us toward a self-fulfilling prophecy. If the public is concerned about the prospect of a recession, the tightening of consumer spending or lulls in corporate investment may well produce one.
Many feel that their country’s economy is getting weaker; and many believe their country is either already experiencing a recession, or will be in the coming months.
While most believe that the current economic conditions in their country are the worst they have experienced in their lifetime, a sense of optimism remains. The vast majority of those surveyed believe that, in the next six months, their personal financial situation will be the same, if not better than it is today.

There Is A Feeling
That Global Institutions Have
Let The Public Down
In an analysis of over 11,936 verbatim comments submitted to our survey, respondents indicated that they feel that governments and global institutions have let them down, and that politicians have mismanaged natural resources and the economy. This feeling speaks to a general lack of trust in the ability or intention of national governments and international bodies to fairly divide the wealth of the world.
This malaise is global, but is expressed in a variety of ways. In Latin America, corruption gets a strong mention. For some European countries, the banking system, along with capitalism, are the top concerns; while others are worried about the impact that larger powers (e.g., the United States of America, Russia and the European Union) and big corporations have on the world economy. Globally, many are worried that greed is stretching global resources too thin.
Donald Trump is the person most often mentioned as the problem. This feeling is especially strong in the United States of America, but is shared across all regions. In some cases, other local leaders are more prominent (e.g., Shinzō Abe in Japan, Emmanuel Macron in France), but there is a general sense that these names represent leadership.
When being more specific, people extend their blame to governments and politicians, bringing up issues between various countries. The trade war between the United States of America and China is a global concern that is felt strongly in Chile and Peru. Brexit is a key concern in the United Kingdom and, to a lesser extent, Ireland, where trade with the United Kingdom could become more difficult.
Other problems are harder to pin directly on specific governments or politicians. Lack of jobs, lack of good jobs , and fear of unemployment are global concerns, felt most acutely in India and France. Globalization and migration are concerns in France, Austria , and Italy; while terrorism is mentioned in Turkey.
Question: Who or what do you think is most responsible for the problems we are seeing in the economies of many countries right now?
Climate Change
Donald Trump
European Union
United States of America

Centralized and opaque banking financial institutions and entities that unilaterally define the terms of the "financial game"; for their benefit and for the benefit of small groups of financial power.- Greece, Female, 50

Uncertainty around Brexit which I think is leading to higher food prices. Home heating is at an all time high and petrol and diesel prices are the highest we have seen for a long time.- Ireland, Female, 65

Climate conditions that will soon worsen drastically and put the world in a state of unprecedented crisis.- Canada, Female, 54

The capitalistic economies allow large corporation to not pay enough tax which reduces taxes to pay for basic infrastructures. They ... move their operations to developing countries and exploit workers of the new locations and leave the workers of the old locations without a job. The governments ... fail to have adequate systems in place to reskill and upskill workers without a job.- Australia, Female, 50

Corruption in governments that causes people to migrate to other countries destabilizing the economies of each country.- Bolivia, Female, 34

President Trump's own economic policy is damaging the economic conditions of countries around the world.- Japan, Male, 71

Our policies of economic and budgetary austerity due to our dogmatic membership of the European Union.- France, Male, 40

Globalization (causes companies to outsource their staff in other regions, such as developing countries, the result is the elimination of jobs and the creation of others with conditions and salaries deficient).- Mexico, Female, 26

All governments along with their politicians waste money without having a common goal, they just think of interests without giving the people the chance to grow and live with dignity.- Italy, Female, 42

Greed e.g. the mindset that basic human rights such as housing can be used as a commodity for profit.- Ireland, Female, 59

Overpopulation is causing problems everywhere because too many people are competing for limited resources. This combined with the general corruption of everyone in charge keeps things from being balanced.- United States of America, Female, 57

Politicians who only represent their own interests and those of corporations are simply poison for fairness and a functioning system.- Austria, Female, 27

The entire world is inevitably affected by the great economic war between America and China. In addition, sanctions applied to Turkey due to political problems between the United States and Turkey have already experienced too much affects our economy in poor condition.- Turkey, Male, 24

The uncertainty, the lack of confidence in everything, in not believing that things can get better if we set our minds to it.- Peru, Female, 59

Job opportunities are only available for experienced people and the younger generation are being forced into unemployment with no opportunity to get out ... expensive housing for young people who can usually only get houses that are below standard in very rough areas ...- United Kingdom, Female, 18

The United States is responsible for the economy because it makes restrictions on services and products and that increases the prices of services and products.- Bolivia, Male, 22
Governments Could Be
Doing More To Address
Economic Challenges
There is a high degree of economic uncertainty among the surveyed publics, which is contributing to household-level worries and reports of decreased consumer spending.
A substantial majority does not believe their government is doing enough to address their country’s economic challenges. Creating more jobs, and reducing poverty and homelessness, are top priorities for most countries. While somewhat fewer prioritize environmental protection, many recognize that environmental protection can boost economic growth and provide jobs.
  • Government action on job creation and/or poverty reduction can be expected to be popular among publics in many of the participating countries.
  • Governments and industry may wish to collaborate on efforts to boost economic confidence, in order to avoid the potential of a self-fulfilling prophecy of a consumer-led recession.
  • Charities might consider the potential of connecting their fundraising appeals to widespread economic concerns – charitable giving to help those need it in these difficult times.