Like all things, business confidence needs perspective.
But trying to put some context around this year's Mood of the Boardroom survey in terms of how our top business executives see the future is extremely difficult.
Covid-19 has put everyone on an uncertain playing field and the goalposts are shifting literally on a daily basis.
One thing is clear: business bosses are much less optimistic about their firm's situation than they were a year ago. And they are twice as gloomy as they were back in 2009 following the Global Financial Crisis.
As the survey shows, some 40 per cent of all respondents are much less optimistic about the general business situation in their industry. That compares with 21.35 per cent 11 years ago, when we were last in recession.
When it comes to their views on the New Zealand economy as a whole, the gap is wider with 69.70 per cent in the much less optimistic camp versus 24.72 per cent in 2009.
And that gap is wider still when asked about the global economy — 87.27 per cent against 25 per cent.
The latter is concerning given New Zealand's place in the world and the Government's elimination response to the pandemic through the use of hard lockdowns.
Finance Minister Grant Robertson has said the biggest risk to New Zealand's recovery comes from the failure of some of its trading partners to tackle the spread of Covid-19.
"In the short-term, New Zealand is better than was expected," he said following the recent GDP result that saw the economy shrink by 12.2 per cent.
"But the medium and long-term is more challenging and we put that very squarely at the feet of the global economy."
With New Zealand's international borders not expected to reopen until January 2022, according to Treasury forecasts, the country is more isolated than ever, perhaps even cut off from the rest of the world until a vaccine is developed. Meanwhile, here at home people are losing their jobs at the fastest rate in a generation. The next Government will need a comprehensive economic recovery plan.
This is reflected in the survey with 40 per cent of respondents "extremely concerned" about the level and quality of Government spending, 24 per cent extremely concerned about the direction of Government policy and 28 per cent extremely concerned about the level of Government debt.
Latest data suggests economic activity has bounced back since the first lockdown restrictions were phased out.
But much of that can be put down to a sugar rush from urgent stimulus and support packages.
"The New Zealand economy has a long way to go to navigate this crisis," ANZ Bank economist Sharon Zollner said after a preliminary read of the September ANZ Business Outlook that showed a widespread improvement in forward-looking activity indicators.
"Fiscal and monetary policy are certainly working their magic. But come year end, far fewer firms will be supported by wage subsidies, and the loss of tourists will be more sorely felt. But for now, things appear to be firmly in the 'could be worse' basket," Zollner said.
As expected, the Mood of the Boardroom survey is dominated by Covid-related concerns.
Many businesspeople will be concerned that the elimination strategy means that whenever there is a new community case of Covid-19, then a whole city has to go into lockdown, as happened in Auckland last month.
The question is how difficult politically is it to reverse course without a change of Government?