The new Cato Institute 2017 Financial Regulation national survey of 2,000 U.S. adults released today finds that Americans distrust government financial regulators as much as they distrust Wall Street. Nearly half (48%) have “hardly any confidence” in either.
Americans have a love-hate relationship with regulators. Most believe regulators are ineffective, selfish, and biased:
- 74% of Americans believe regulations often fail to have their intended effect.
- 75% believe government financial regulators care more about their own jobs and ambitions than about the well-being of Americans.
- 80% think regulators allow political biases to impact their judgment.
But most also believe regulation can serve some important functions:
- 59% believe regulations, at least in the past, have produced positive benefits.
- 56% say regulations can help make businesses more responsive to people’s needs.
However, Americans do not think that regulators help banks make better business decisions (74%) or better decisions about how much risk to take (68%). Instead, Americans want regulators to focus on preventing banks and financial institutions from committing fraud (65%) and ensuring banks and financial institutions fulfill their obligations to customers (56%).
Americans Are Wary of Wall Street, But Believe It Is Essential
Nearly a decade after the 2008 financial crisis, Americans remain wary of Wall Street.
- 77% believe bankers would harm consumers if they thought they could make a lot of money doing so and get away with it.
- 64% think Wall Street bankers “get paid huge amounts of money” for “essentially tricking people.”
- Nearly half (49%) of Americans worry that corruption in the industry is “widespread” rather than limited to a few institutions.
At the same time, however, most Americans believe Wall Street serves an essential function in our economy.
- 64% believe Wall Street is “essential” because it provides the money businesses need to create jobs and develop new products.
- 59% believe Wall Street and financial institutions are important for helping develop life-saving technologies in medicine.
- 53% believe Wall Street is important for helping develop safety equipment in cars.
Wall Street vs. The Regulators: Public Attitudes on Banks, Financial Regulation, Consumer Finance, and the Federal Reserve
White House Official Says Government Will Stop Using Term ‘War on Drugs’
The Wall Street Journal reports that White House Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske is calling for a new strategy on federal drug policy and is putting a stop to the term “War on Drugs.”
Recently on Leno, President Obama compared some financial products to an exploding toaster. His words:
President Obama has announced his intention to use $30 billion in TARP funds to create a new small business lending fund. In all likelihood, this is $30 billion the taxpayers will never see returned.
Two items in Tuesday’s newspapers remind us of the often unseen costs of regulation and also of the often unseen benefits of market processes. In the Wall Street Journal, Prof. Todd Zywicki examines the likely consequences of a law to limit credit card interest rates and the fees they charge to merchants:
Despite the economic stimulus and various financial bailouts, our economy continues to shed jobs. One of the reasons for continued job losses is the decline in new hires, especially the lack of new hiring by small business.
Here is the message members of Congress should send to Ben Bernanke during the Fed chief’s annual Capitol Hill testimony this week: He is fighting for his job. With his term up in January of next year, Bernanke needs to be called to account for the Fed’s many questionable actions during the financial turmoil of the past year.