Here’s some cold comfort for economy watchers. The people who pour over books of Canadian companies are getting more optimistic about the global economy. However, their view of the business climate here at home is less rosy.
According to the Global Economic Conditions Survey (GECS), which surveys accountants and chief financial officers around the world, 46 per cent of Canadian respondents have faith in the global economic recovery. That’s up from 42 per cent in the second half of 2012.
However, confidence in Canadian businesses is mixed.
The report says 33 per cent of respondents reported a loss of confidence in the prospects of their organizations for the first half of 2013, which is down from 39 per cent six earlier.
Still, only 20 per cent felt increased confidence, down from 25 per cent for the last half of 2012.
"Canada's businesses are clearly looking forward to better days," said Suzanne Godbehere, Head of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) Canada.
The report says business opportunities are falling in Canada, a trend that accelerated in the first six months of 2013, driven by a cash flow crunch, currency volatility and less access to growth capital.
"Overall, these findings suggest that businesses still have little incentive to retain earnings for organic growth," the report states.
The findings come as Canada's economy struggles to expand. Statistics Canada reported last week that the Canadian economy grew a slight 0.2 per cent in May from April, which was below forecasts. June's growth is expected to be worse due to Alberta's floods and the labour strike in Quebec.
The Conference Board of Canada said last week it expects the global economy to expand at a "tepid pace" of 2.5 per cent this year, according to its World Outlook - Summer 2013.
"This situation will begin to change as the U.S. economy picks up steam toward the end of this year, and growth in the world economy is expected to increase to 3.2 per cent in 2014," the Conference Board said, adding that Europe will remain "the main stumbling block."
While the outlooks for Canada and the global economy are far from overwhelming, the GECS report says its result represent the “highest level of optimism about national and global economies in two years, and the strongest year-on-year improvement in three years.”
It said an improved access to growth capital worldwide helped improve the overall picture.
"This is quite encouraging - after a too-bullish first quarter, confidence is now back in line with the improving fundamentals,” said Emmanouil Schizas, ACCA senior economic analyst and editor of the GECS.
The ACCA has 162,000 members in 173 countries, including 2,500 in Canada.