A survey of 1,258 bosses by accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, timed to coincide with the World Economic Forum of the global business elite, found 48 percent expect economic decline and only 15 percent growth.
European business leaders were the most pessimistic, amid fears governments are not up to the task of resolving their debt crises and concerns about the stability of capital markets, the firm said at the ski-resort summit.
"CEO confidence is decidedly down as they deal with the aftershocks to the recession," said Dennis Nally, chairman of PwC International.
"CEOs are disappointed with the course of the global economy and the pace of recovery. The optimism that had been building cautiously since 2008 has begun to recede."