How's Business? Americans Believe Wall Street's Contributions to the Economy Are Essential, but Its Leaders Rank Poorly

Article excerpt



Even before the market's recent troubles, confidence in the people running Wall Street was not robust--our first figure (see previous page) shows that in early 2008 only 11 percent of Americans had a great deal of confidence in them. That puts Wall Street on a par with Congress, the press, organized labor, and law firms. High confidence in Wall Street reached a peak of 30 percent in the halcyon economic days of 1999 and 2000. Around a quarter of those asked in recent years have had hardly any confidence in those running Wall Street. Republicans are slightly more inclined than Democrats to regard the people running Wall Street highly.

The proportion of Americans saying they have a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in banks was near a three-decade low in a June 2008 Gallup survey. Of the 16 institutions included in the poll, banking was the only one to suffer a sharp decline in confidence from 2007. Confidence in banks is considerably higher, however, than confidence in Congress.

Wall Street is absolutely essential because it provides   71%
           the money business must have for investments

         Most people on Wall Street would be willing to   63%
         break the law if they believed they could make
                    a lot of money and get away with it

      Wall Street is dominated by greed and selfishness   60%

                    Wall Street only cares about making   59%
                      money and absolutely nothing else

                In general people on Wall Street are as   41%
                       honest and moral as other people

          Most successful people on Wall Street deserve   40%
                    to make the kind of money they earn

                      In general, what is good for Wall   37%
                         Street is good for the country

Source: Harris Interactive, 2006. …