It turns out that the remedy to the global economic downturn comes in two strengths: a less-potent recovery for mature economies (the United States and most of Europe) and an extra-strength version for emerging markets (including India, Hong Kong, and Argentina). A new study from CFO Research Services, in collaboration with American Express, surveyed 665 senior finance executives at large companies around the world and found that 2011 is very much a tale of two recoveries.

Seventy-five percent of all senior finance executives share an optimistic outlook, and expect their country’s economy to expand in the next year. But on most specific issues, the countries are divided into two camps. For example, 90% or more of finance executives based in India, Mexico, and Singapore expect growth to accelerate this year; only 54% of U.S. respondents concur.

In assessing major risks, 86% of U.S. finance executives fret over new regulatory requirements, as do 77% of UK respondents. But more than 80% of respondents in Argentina, Australia, and Germany (Europe’s sole economic powerhouse) cited “access to well-qualified employees” as their top concern.

On the investment front, 94% of Mexico-based respondents will aggressively invest cash in expanding operations and head count in the next year. In the United States, the figure stands at just 57%, suggesting that the gap between the two recoveries won’t narrow any time soon.

CFOs' thoughts on the economic recovery.

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