Every month, the Ipsos Global Economic Pulse survey asks people around the world to tell us how they think the economy is doing in their country. No economists, analysts or any other kind of so-called experts are involved.

What do people see? Well, we can talk about the global economy and the intertwined-ness of international supply chains as much as we like. But, just as with the raw economic data, we continue to find dramatic contrasts in consumer perceptions when we look at things at a national level.

Take the ‘EU5 countries’, for example. In Germany, 75% describe the current economic situation in their country as ‘good’. In Spain it’s 16%, while in both France and Italy we can only find 13% feeling positive about things – giving a rather feeble combined three-country figure of 42.

Of course the fifth country to make up the ‘EU5’ is – for the moment anyway – the UK. Set against the gloom and doom of the French, Spanish and Italians, the Brits’ current score of 45% looks pretty good. That said, other consumer data, including recent Ipsos MORI Economic Optimism Indexes – suggest that it’s not just so-called experts who see clouds on the horizon.

If Britain has an uncertain outlook, it’s worth perhaps reminding ourselves that things could be worse. For the second year running, Brazil remains slumped at the foot of the table, with just 7% giving their economy the green light. And with good reason: for much of 2016, the country has been experiencing negative annual GDP growth of more than 5%,1http://www.tradingeconomics.com/brazil/gdp-growth-annualplacing new burdens on the daily lives of so many of the country’s 210 million strong population.2For an insider view on Brazil today, see our Ipsos Flair report: https://www.ipsos.com/flair-brazil-2017-debris-or-seeds The worst may be over though: 59% of Brazilians expect to see their local economy become stronger over the coming months. That said, people can be even worse than economists at predicting the future. Indeed, at the end of 2016, 53% of Brazilians said the economy would improve. It didn’t.

‘The economy, stupid’ was a phrase so successfully used during Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign. However, the economy seemed a long way from the centre of this year’s US presidential race. It’s worth noting that American consumer sentiment has actually been improving steadily over time. As Barack Obama leaves office, 50% say the economy is in good shape; a transformation since the 29% recorded at the start of his second term four years ago.

Indeed, if we extend our look a little further back, to the start of this decade, US economic perceptions were even gloomier during Obama’s first term; just 18% of Americans felt good about things in 2010. Back then – as now – we had India and China at the top of our league table, with the most striking change being that they have now been joined by Germany.

Our graphic also charts just how Britons, perhaps without realising it, have also become more positive about the state of their economy in recent years. Tune in to next year’s Almanac to see how these perceptions change as ‘Brexit Britain’ really starts to take shape.


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