(Bloomberg)-- International investors are the most upbeat about the global economy than at any time in almost five years, buoyed by the U.S.-led revival of industrial nations, according to the Bloomberg Global Poll.
On the eve of the World Economic Forums annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, 59% of Bloomberg subscribers surveyed last week said the economic outlook is improving. Thats up from 33% in November and marks the most optimistic result since the poll began in July 2009.
Strength in the richest economies was cited as the main reason for confidence by almost two-thirds of the 66% who said they were more positive than a year ago. While the Standard & Poors 500 Index has already risen about 24% in the past year, more than half of respondents identified stocks as the asset of choice for 2014 as concern about asset bubbles eased.
Developed countries are playing by far the most important part of the recovery in confidence, in markets and in the economy, said Wilhelm Schroeder, 54, a poll participant and managing director of Schroeder Equities GmbH in Munich. Without doubt, confidence is the single most important determinant for growth.
The enthusiastic tone is set to be reinforced when more than 2,500 leaders of finance, business and government gather starting tomorrow in the Swiss Alps. The Davos meetings of recent memory have been overshadowed by crises ranging from the recession of 2009 to subsequent fears of a euro-area break-up. Even a year ago, there were qualms about the potential for a fiscal-policy error in the U.S. or a hard landing for Chinas economy.
The mood is most likely better and positive, said Nouriel Roubini, chairman of Roubini Global Economics LLC in New York, who used the Davos conference of 2007 to warn of impending economic woes. That reflects the improved strength in the global economy and financial markets.
The change in mood sees equities favored over fixed income, with 53% of those surveyed saying stocks will offer the best return in the coming year, the most since May. Just 3% picked bonds and 39% said they would have the worst returns. Real estate was the second most popular bet, with the backing of 16%.
The poll also underscores the shift in attitude back toward advanced economies, five years since they were roiled by the financial crisis and recession. Now it is the emerging markets, which propped up the world amid the slump, causing concern.
Seventy-two percent in the survey said the U.S. economy is improving, up from 53% a year ago. Forty nine percent said the same of theeuro zone, a tripling since last January and the most since the question was first asked in September 2011. Forty-eight percent said Japan is strengthening.
By contrast, just 13% of those surveyed said Chinas economy is improving, with 36% saying it is deteriorating, although almost half said its stable. On Brazil, 44% said its economy is fading.
Chinas slowing economy also emerged as the biggest concern among investors, with a third of those polled identifying it as the worlds major risk, up from 26% in November. Political gridlock in Washington over U.S. fiscal policy, the biggest worry two months ago, was viewed as the main threat by only 8% this time.
There has been an alarming deceleration in the emerging world, said Nariman Behravesh, a Davos delegate and chief economist at IHS Inc. in Lexington, Massachusetts. He estimates developing economies will contribute the least to global growth this year since 2010.
The rebound in developed economies was rubber stamped today when the International Monetary Fund raised its forecast for global economic growth this year to 3.7% from the 3.6% it predicted in October.
Thats not stopped Managing Director Christine Lagarde, who will also be in Davos, from calling the recovery feeble and saying global growth remains below its long-term trend of about 4%. Shes also urged policy makers to fight the ogre of deflation.
Money looks likely to follow growth, according to the Bloomberg Global Poll. Forty six percent said the U.S. will be among the most attractive investment destinations this year. Forty percent pointed to the European Union, the most since the question was first asked in October 2009.
Thirty three percent identified Brazil as likely to provide some of the worst opportunities, while 29% named China and 27% Russia.
The increased embracing of risk is fanning some concerns that asset bubbles may build, albeit less so than in Novembers survey. Fourteen percent said stocks are in a bubble and 42% said they are approaching one, down from 20% and 45% in November.
Thirty-eight percent said Internet and social networking stocks are in a bubble, down from 49%. Thirty-five percent said the same of London house prices, a decline from 41%. More than half said Treasuries are not displaying signs of being over-valued.
Some Davos attendees are already worried markets are showing signs of exuberance unjustified by the economic recovery.
Were getting a little optimistic, former U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers said in a Jan. 4 interview. He has warned advanced economies may face a period of secular stagnation that even zero interest rates cant reverse.
The renewed expansion may nevertheless be a reason why 37% said the trend in globalization is accelerating. About a quarter each said it is slowing or stalling and 5% said its in reversal.
Asked how they viewed various policy makers, 71% of respondents said they regard European Central Bank President Mario Draghi favorably and 60% said the same of Bank of England Governor Mark Carney.
The poll of 477 investors, analysts and traders who are Bloomberg subscribers was conducted on Jan 16-17 by Selzer & Co., a Des Moines, Iowa-based firm. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.
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