Hong Kong Sees the Biggest Drop in Economic Optimism

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Hong Kong Sees the Biggest Drop in Economic Optimism

After a dismal 2008, there's nowhere to go but up, right? That's not the view in Hong Kong. As the Chinese prepare to usher in the Year of the Ox, which starts on Monday, Jan. 26, gloom has descended on the special administrative zone of China. According to a recent survey by accounting firm Grant Thornton, Hong Kong business executives had the biggest drop in optimism about the economy. Grant Thornton surveyed executives at more than 7,200 businesses around the world for its latest International Business Report 2009, released in two stages earlier this month. Part One, released Jan. 7, looked at overall optimism and pessimism about the economy; Part Two, released on Jan. 13, looked at executives' expectations about six categories: exports, profitability, investment in new buildings, investment in plant & machinery, turnover, and selling prices. Hong Kong ranked worst in all six of those categories.

Where to find business executives who are really upbeat about prospects? It helps to look for countries with minimal exposure to the global financial industry. Try Botswana and Vietnam. The most upbeat of all is India. However, the survey was conducted before the recent scandal at Satyam Computer Services (SAY) shocked the country and prompted comparisons to Enron and Bernard Madoff.

For more on the rankings, read on. Each result reflects the percentage difference between survey respondents who were optimistic and those who were pessimistic: In other words, a country where everyone was upbeat would score plus-100 and a country where everyone was gloomy would score minus-100.

Data: Grant Thornton

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