Wall Street ef­forts to im­prove its im­age fail to sway Amer­i­cans

The Denver Post - - BUSINESS - By Tom Met­calf and John Mccormick

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.

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