In the immediate aftermath of the US sub-prime mortgage scandal and subsequent banking collapse, many politicians around the world were keen to characterize the crisis as one that began in the USA. At the time, this often played into a widely accepted anti-American narrative in the years following the invasion of Iraq. Yet three years on, with the future looking ever more uncertain and America a relative economic bright spot, opinion has softened towards the USA and hardened towards the sector that has become synonymous with economic catastrophe: banking.
In all but one of the ten nations surveyed by GlobeScan both in 2009 and 2012, the proportion who blame the USA for the crisis has fallen, sometimes by large margins. Americans themselves are among those least likely to point the finger at the USA.
In contrast, with many feeling that the financial sector has failed to take the opportunity to embrace reform and cultural change, the opinion that banks and other financial institutions are to blame for the crisis has become more common in the last three years. This is particularly the case in the Western countries surveyed, with 32% of Britons, 41% of Germans, and 23% of Canadians now blaming the banks for the crisis. And with malpractice allegations, liquidity crises, stubbornly low levels of consumer lending, and the prospect of huge Eurozone losses continuing to dog the sector, it seems unlikely that banking’s reputation will improve any time soon, whether or not economic recovery is forthcoming.
While national governments are still the most-cited culprit in the crisis, the proportion mentioning them as being to blame has also fallen sharply in the past three years, from 29% to 22%. The global nature of the present malaise is increasingly apparent, and this may be causing citizens to re-evaluate the degree to which their own country’s economic policies are at fault. Equally telling, perhaps, is the rise in the proportion saying they do not know who is at fault for the crisis, from 10% to 15% over the past three years. The crisis continues, but for many its roots are less clear than they were. To avoid further waves of public censure, the institutions that many hold responsible for their economic woes must be the ones to work together and find a way forwards.
Finding from the GlobeScan Radar, Wave 1, 2012
This post was written by former GlobeScan Research Director, Sam Mountford.
Global public less likely to point the finger of blame for the financial crisis at America
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