Almost half of UK and US firms predict recession

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
13 January 2020

Geopolitical tensions, the environment and changing consumer behaviour are the biggest risks facing UK businesses in 2020, according to a survey.

The survey, from trade finance provider Stenn, found 65% of firms thought trade tariffs, Brexit and regional instability were the biggest risk. Half (50%) considered Environmental concerns such as climate change was noted as the second biggest risk (50%) closely followed by changing consumer behaviour such as online shopping (noted by 48%). Then came increased cyber threats or data breaches, cited by 43%.

The survey, which covered the UK, US and China, put an equal weighting on the top three risks for the US: increased geopolitical tension, environmental concerns and changing consumer behaviour, all 54%. Half (51%) cited cyber threats or data breaches.

For China, changing consumer behaviour was cited as the top risk by 65%, followed by global recession or international financial crisis (64%) and geopolitical tensions (62%).

Almost half of firms in the UK (46%) and US (45%) predicted their respective countries would to into recession in 2020, but 93% of Chinese firms were confident their economy would grow this year, most likely by 6-7%.

More than a third (37%) of UK firms and US firms (35%) expected to see a global recession. A third (33%) of UK companies expected the UK economy to shrink, most likely by 1-3%, while 15% of US businesses predicted their economy will contract, also by 1-3%.

The research involved more than 700 senior executives at medium to large businesses.

Kerstin Braun, president of Stenn Group, said: “What’s most worrisome is global trade. The capricious US-China tariff war, which started as a security and tech war, has turned into political theatre at the expense of real businesses, while trade in and out of the UK after Brexit is still under threat.

“The uncertainty impacts short-term margins and long-term investment plans for companies with international supply chains.”

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