WASHINGTON – The Great Recession officially ended more than five years ago. Yet the feeling of many people around the world can be summarized in one word: Gloom.
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In a survey of 48,643 people in 44 countries out Tuesday, the Pew Research Center found that 60 percent say their own country's economy is performing poorly.
Dissatisfaction runs highest in the world's most advanced economies, where 64 percent say conditions are bad. In the United States, 58 percent give the American economy poor marks.
The deepest despair was recorded in countries hit hardest by the European debt crisis: 97 percent of Greeks, 96 percent of Italians and 93 percent of Spaniards said their economies were performing poorly. Unemployment rates are extraordinarily high in all three: 27 percent in Greece, 13 percent in Italy, 25 percent in Spain.
There are exceptions to the pervasive gloom: 89 percent of Chinese are positive about their country's economy, even though it's slowed markedly from the double-digit growth of a few years ago. In Vietnam, 87 percent of respondents gave the economy high marks. In Germany, 85 percent did.
In the countries that Pew characterizes as "emerging economies," 59 percent said conditions were unsatisfactory. Only in low-income "developing economies" did a majority (51 percent) call economic conditions "good."
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Brazil has seen the steepest drop in economic confidence: Just 32 percent of Brazilians were positive about their economy, down from 59 percent in 2013.
Perceptions are improving in the United Kingdom: Last year, just 15 percent said the U.K. economy was in good shape. This year, the figure had jumped to 43 percent.
Eighty percent of Chinese said their economy would be stronger in a year, making them the world's most optimistic people. Just 15 percent of Japanese expected an improved economy next year, the lowest among the countries surveyed.
People in advanced economies ranked high levels of government debt as their biggest economic problem, followed by rising prices, a lack of jobs and the income gap between the rich and poor.
People in middle-income countries saw rising prices as their biggest problem. Those in low-income countries regarded a weak job market as their No. 1 problem.