Wall Street efforts to improve its image fail to sway Americans
Bad news for financial titans such as Jpmorgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon and Goldman Sachs Group’s Lloyd Blankfein: Most Americans hold unfavorable views of Wall Street banks and corporate executives, and distrust billionaires more than they admire them.
Despite efforts by Wall Street firms to regain trust since the 2008 financial crisis, fewer than a third of Americans view the industry positively — unchanged from 2009, according to the latest Bloomberg National Poll.
Dimon, 61, and Blankfein, 62, chief executive officers for more than a decade, have sought to influence the public policy debate on issues including infrastructure investment, regulation, education, immigration and corporate tax reform. Both were revealed as billionaires in 2015, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Yet the poll shows that Americans are much more likely to distrust billionaires than admire them, 53 percent to 31 percent. And just 31 percent look favorably on corporate executives and Wall Street.
Big banks “are still pushing for deregulation and they are going to get us right back to where we were with the financial crisis,” said poll participant Chad Boyd, 36, an independent voter and information technology worker who lives in Louisville, Colo.
Bankers, for their part, have been expressing their sympathy for Americans’ frustrations. Dimon unleashed a diatribe this month about the nation’s failure to address the opioid epidemic, economic growth and education, blaming dysfunctional politics and the media. Blankfein recently took to Twitter, calling for unity in Washington and for the U.S. to emulate China’s infrastructure programs.
Republicans are much more likely to admire billionaires than Democrats, 53 percent to 17 percent. For some poll participants, the popularity of billionaires depends on the billionaire.
“Sometimes they do stuff against the little guy” and don’t always give back to help society, said Leigh Lamon, 36, a preschool teacher from Bothell, Wash., a suburb of Seattle. However, Lamon said she admires billionaires such as Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates: “He has done a lot of good.”
The Federal Reserve, meanwhile, improved its standing as the economy strengthened in recent years. Fifty-two percent of those surveyed view the central bank favorably, its highest score since the poll began tracking it in September 2009. Fed chair Janet Yellen continues to toil in relative obscurity. More than half of respondents said they don’t know enough about her to form an opinion, while 28 percent view her favorably and 15 percent unfavorably.
The telephone poll of 1,001 American adults has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, higher among subgroups. It was conducted July 8-12 by Iowa-based Selzer & Co.