That’s the story of our times, isn’t it? Some 68% of media and entertainment executives say that the global economy is improving — up from 26% who felt the same way a year ago — according to consulting firm EY’s latest Capital Confidence Barometer for the industry. But just 32% said that they plan to create jobs or hire talent over the next 12 months, a slight drop from last year’s 35%, in the September survey of a panel of 56 execs representing all global regions. The silver lining is that just 13% said that they’d reduce their workforce, half the number who anticipated layoffs in 2012. What will execs do, then, if they have extra cash? Some 30% plan to pay down debt (vs 39% last year), 24% will pay shareholders dividends (vs 4%), 22% will invest in organic growth (vs 40%), 15% will do deals (vs 13%), and 9% will repurchase stock (vs 4%). Although execs expect to play things safe, 74% anticipate an increase in mergers and acquisitions. The biggest risks to the industry: increased global political instability (42%), continuation of the Eurozone crisis (24%), continued slow growth in China (19%), and a failure to manage the withdrawl of U.S. quantitative easing (15%).