Federal government trusted less than banks

December 17, 2013, 8:58 PM GMT+0

The federal government is one of the least trusted institutions in the country, trusted even less than banks and financial firms.

The federal government is currently preparing to implement a new rule, the so-called 'Volcker Rule', named after former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker who has been its main proponent. The rule aims to limit risky behavior at banks insured by the federal government by largely prohibiting banks from making investments for themselves instead of their customers. Banks have opposed the rule - calling it complex and burdensome - while many proponents of financial services reform have said that it does not go far enough to prevent future financial crises that could end up leading to further federal bailouts.

The latest research from YouGov finds, however, that the American public have little trust in either the regulators or the regulated. Indeed, the federal government is trusted even less than banks to do the right thing. Only 11% of Americans trust 'government in Washington' to do the right thing at least most of the time, compared to 34% who say they can be trusted to do so only some of the time and 52% who say that they will almost never do the right thing. Even the banking and financial services sector fares better, with 20% of the public saying that you can trust them to do the right thing at least most of the time.

Asked to name who they trust the most, 33% of Americans say that they trust high tech companies the most. The federal government (58%) is the least trusted, followed by oil and gas companies (19%) and banks and financial services (14%). 13% of Americans do say, however, that they trust the federal government the most, with 21% of Democrats choosing this option.

Americans tend to think that their elected representatives aren't on their side but are rather on the banks' side. This is particularly true of Republican elected officials - whom 58% of people say are more on the side of banks - but 39% also say that Democratic elected officials are more pro-bank than pro-customer.

Despite the general perceptions of each party, however, the most prominent Democrats are viewed as being more on the side of banks than at least two of the most prominent Republicans. John Boehner is seen as the most pro-bank, with 44% saying that he favors banks over customers, followed by Barack Obama for whom 39% say that same. Chris Christie is the least likely to be thought of as favoring banks over customers, with only 25% saying that he leans towards banks, though only 11% say that he favors customers more than banks. Hillary Clinton is the most likely to be viewed as pro-customer, with 23% saying she sticks up for customers over banks.

Full poll results can be found here.

Image: Getty Images

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