American entrepreneurs are notoriously sunny--but not compared with their peers around the world. The global accounting firm Grant Thornton recently surveyed more than 7,000 owners of midsize companies in 30 countries and found that U.S. businesses ranked 17th in optimism--largely because of the effects of high oil prices, natural disasters, and the war in Iraq. Below, the world's biggest bulls and bears.
|India Entrepreneurs anticipate 7.5 percent GDP growth, economic reforms, and a flood of foreign investment.||France Entrepreneurs are weary of regulations, high unemployment, and widespread social fragmentation.|
|Ireland A tech and services boom has living standards and economic growth outpacing the rest of Western Europe.||Italy The economy is stagnant and unemployment is high. Corruption and political instability are big problems.|
|South Africa With moderate inflation and interest rates at 20-year lows, South Africa is an island of stability in Africa.||Botswana Ballooning government spending, high inflation, and the AIDS epidemic are taking a toll on one of Africa's few success stories.|
|China A $102 billion trade surplus would make anyone feel good; businesses also expect a boost from the 2008 Olympics.||Japan Businesses face a shrinking labor pool and tough competition from South Korea and China.|
|Philippines Foreign investment jumped more than 60 percent last year and is expected to rise again in 2006.||Taiwan Political tensions with the mainland have cut Taiwan off from the world's hottest economy.|