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"Gallup first measured confidence in institutions in 1973 and has done so annually since 1993. This year's survey was conducted June 1-20.": "Now I am going to read you a list of institutions in American society. Please tell me how much confidence you, yourself, have in each one -- a great deal, quite a lot, some or very little." 73% said, "'some', or 'very little.'"

gallup confidence

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    It's really difficult to answer. The direct answer is because 27% of responders said so. But why did they say so? Only they know for sure. Maybe they simply don't like banks as much. And look there is stuff in which confidence is even lower. Whatever that means. Dec 14, 2022 at 20:32
  • @JamesK I personally think confidence in a business comes from being honest and offering a la carte consent (Condorcet). Why should anyone have just some confidence or none in the party they are dealing with if the commerce and justice department are working? Are people exchanging hours and goods at these institutions based on little threats and/or multipartite, unreasonably-intractable duress? Dec 14, 2022 at 22:27
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    @NickCarducci Because the poll treats it as such. It is not objectively measuring confidence (however that would look like). The question even specifies " you, yourself" which is a clear indicator of subjectivity.
    – xyldke
    Dec 15, 2022 at 9:05
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    @haxor789 Interest rates on bank savings accounts remain negligible despite increases in the fed fund rates. They are markedly less than the currently high inflation rate. I am not at all confident they will increase. OTOH, I am quite confident that banks will charge higher interest rates on a loan. I would not conflate that confidence in higher rates with confidence in the banking institutions. Dec 15, 2022 at 17:08
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    Any time the phrase Too big to fail is in play, it implies a complete lack of confidence. The mere fact that you're discussing how to prop them up presupposes that the institution(s) in question are unable to survive on their own merits.
    – Ben Voigt
    Dec 15, 2022 at 23:36

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Looking at the historical data for that poll might offer some insight.

Until 2006, of those asked, around 50% had a "great deal / quite a lot" of confidence in banks (comparable to confidence in churches in that year, and better than confidence in the supreme court, public schools, newspapers, or the criminal justice system).

With the financial crisis 07/08, those numbers took a nosedive, bottoming out at 21% in 2012. They recovered a bit, but never really reached those previous heights.

We can see another small height of 38% in 2020, which declined again in 21/22 to 33/27%, coinciding with the covid-19 recession and 2021-2022 inflation surge. While banks may or may not have a direct impact on those crisis, in a time of financial hardship people will have more negative interactions with institutions that offer them credit, mortgages, etc, which may erode their trust.

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Banks and bankers are not "popular". They seem to be making money (lots of money) without actually making anything.

And that's when things are going well, when things go badly people can loose their life savings.

These polls tend to turn into a measure of popularity.

So it is not surprising that people rank banks lowly on any particular scale. It matters little if you ask if they are "trustworthy", "socially useful" or "environmentally friendly" (!) If you ask people to say good or bad things about bankers, they will say bad things, because they don't like them.

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  • I think this is part of it, but "seem to" carries a lot of weight here. In a capitalist society, banks may not produce physical goods, but they do offer services that can be (perceived as) useful (they give people a mortgage which allows them to own homes, they offer loans so people can buy cars and other big purchases, they provide a secure place to store their money, and may help to invest it). I think how people weight these benefits against (perceived or actual) misdeeds by banks is an important part in how confident people are in these institutions.
    – tim
    Dec 15, 2022 at 19:14
  • @tim As more and more people understand the scam of fiat money and malinvestment, people will understand that banks, central banks, and financiers are just parasites.
    – paulj
    Jan 15, 2023 at 11:17
  • @paulj I'm very uncomfortable with that idea & terminology. It's rooted in antisemitic imagery and centuries old tropes about productive vs non-productive capital. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_parasite
    – tim
    Jan 15, 2023 at 12:29

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