Malaysian finance professionals were the most pessimistic on the possibility of a global economic recovery, according to a global survey by Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA).
They were also concerned about rising inflation and that governments, which are living beyond their means, may struggle to get it back through extra public spending.
"The Global Economic Conditions Survey for the second quarter of 2012, undertaken by ACCA and the Institute of Management Accountants, cautioned that growth across the world's most developed economies has stalled once again and that the global economy is as fragile as it has ever been in the last three years.
"The global survey of 2,700 professional accountants, now well into its third year, suggests that hints of a stronger recovery in early 2012 were mostly down to misplaced optimism, and that most of the gains made at the time have since been reversed," ACCA said in a statement.
The second quarter of 2012 saw both business confidence and optimism on the global economy fall in Malaysia.
The study revealed that the country is the least confident market in the Asia-Pacific region.
"Only 12 per cent of respondents reported confidence gain, down from 20 per cent in the previous quarter, while 50 per cent reported a loss of confidence.
"Moreover, only 18 per cent now believe the global economy is on the road to recovery, down from 38 per cent three months earlier," it said.
ACCA added that the last quarter saw access to finance deteriorate, although pressures on demand were not yet on the rise. "Over the last year, respondents have consistently reported that there were fewer profitable opportunities available for firms to invest in than three months ago."
The survey also revealed respondents' increasing concern on China's slowing economy. "The flip side of the Chinese slowdown is a recovery for the US eco-nomy, where investment is on the rise and confidence is high, despite significant potential problems."
It also highlighted that accountants working in major markets such as the US, China, Russia, Malaysia or Pakistan - economies relied on by others for trade and export opportunities - believe that fiscal stimulus by their governments is already unsustainable.
"It was only in a few markets that respondents believed that their government could spend both robustly and sustainably - places such as Singapore or the UAE," it said.