Confidence in Banks, Financial Institutions and Wall Street, 1971-2011
Public Opinion Quarterly. 76(1):142-162.
39 Pages Posted: 23 Sep 2011 Last revised: 17 May 2012
Date Written: September 21, 2011
Animosity toward banks, financial institutions and Wall Street has been an important part of the public discourse since the bank bailouts of 2008. Indeed, Americans’ confidence in all three institutions has plummeted accordingly in the years since. This paper places these declines in confidence in historical perspective. I examine trends in confidence in commercial banks, local banks, savings and loan associations, Wall Street, and Wall Street executives over the last 40 years, as well as perceptions of the moral and ethical practices of bankers and stockbrokers. I pay particular attention to how confidence shifts in response to both economic contractions and major scandals. My findings suggest that while changes in the business cycle have an effect on public opinion in this domain, it is the economic contractions that correspond to major scandals in the financial sector which motivate the largest shifts in confidence and provoke the most public outrage.
Keywords: Confidence, GSS, Public Opinion, Banks, Financial Institutions, Wall Street, Bank Bailouts
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