Most people (57 percent of all adults) would like to see stronger regulation of Wall Street, while only seven percent (7 percent) would like to see looser regulation, and those responsible for regulating financial services receive a so-so, or moderate, rating (43 percent positive, 43 percent negative), according to new questions asked in this year’s annual Harris Poll about Wall Street.
The responses indicated that there has been a modest improvement in the public’s perceptions of the people who work on Wall Street. They are still very negative but somewhat less so than last year. By a substantial 68 percent to 16 percent majority, most Americans continue to feel that, on balance, Wall Street benefits the country rather than harms it, but they also hold many critical views about the people who work on Wall Street. For example:
By 54 percent to 34 percent, a majority believes that people on Wall Street would be willing to break the law if they believed they could make a lot of money and get away with it. However, this is down from 61 percent who felt this way last year.
By 51 percent to 36 percent, people believe that Wall Street is dominated by greed and selfishness, but here again, this is an improvement from the 57 percent who felt that way last year. Only a minority, 35 percent (unchanged from last year) believe that in general people on Wall Street are as “honest and moral as other people.”