A BBC World Service survey in 25 countries has found strikingly different attitudes to the economic outlook between rich and developing countries.
In the rich world, consumers were pessimistic, while in emerging economies people were more upbeat.
It is a pattern that reflects the very uneven recovery from the recent global recession.
More than 25,000 people were surveyed by the polling firm Globescan.
Japan, France and Britain emerged as particularly gloomy. The percentage expecting good times in all three countries was in single figures. More than half expected bad times.Recession danger
The picture across the rich world was one of pessimists outnumbering the optimists, though by smaller margins.
The one exception to this pattern was Germany, where 36% expected good or mostly good times, well ahead of those who were downbeat. Even there, the optimists were outnumbered by those expecting a mix of good and bad times ahead.
In the developing world, optimists outnumbered pessimists in nearly every country surveyed. In Nigeria more than seventy per cent expected good times. The results were strongly upbeat in Kenya and Egypt as well.
There was one exception, Pakistan, where pessimists were slightly more numerous. In Russia, Chile and Ecuador, the optimists were only just ahead.
The difference in attitudes does broadly reflect recent economic performance: strong growth in many emerging economies, sluggishness in the rich world.
It is also consistent with most forecasts, which suggest an increasing danger of at least some developed economies sliding back into recession.
The research was done between July and September this year.
Since then the situation in the world's biggest economic trouble spot - the eurozone - has moved on and in some respects the uncertainty there has deepened.
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