AP-NORC Poll: Americans’ Faith in Banks Reaches New Low After Failures

According to a new poll, only around 10% of adults in the U.S. say they have high confidence in the nation’s financial institutions and banks. That number is down from 22% who said they had high confidence in 2020. 

Additionally, after the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank this month, a poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds the majority say the government needs to do more to regulate the industry

The low assessment of America’s bank regulation and banks comes after several shocks brought back alarming memories of the 2008-2009 financial crisis. 

The nation’s 16th-largest bank, Silicon Valley Bank, failed on March 10 after making risky moves in the bond market. Only two days later, regulators closed the New York-based Signature Bank, which had been involved in cryptocurrencies.

Across the Atlantic, Credit Suisse, which has been long troubled, was acquired by rival UBS on Sunday in a rapid move designed to restore confidence in global financial institutions. In the U.S., the tumult has produced questions amongst policymakers about the 2018 legislation that repealed strict regulations implemented after the financial crisis. 

According to the poll, the American public shares that concern: 56% of respondents say the government isn’t doing enough to regulate financial institutions and banks, while 27% say it is doing an adequate amount, and 15% say it has regulated too much. 

Worrying about under-regulation is primarily bipartisan. 63% of Democrats say the current regulation of banks is insufficient, along with 51% of Republicans. 

The poll found that along with the 10% of Americans who say they have high confidence in the U.S. banking institutions, 57% have some confidence, and 31% have hardly any. 

Poll demonstrates dismal assessment of American economy

According to the poll, the already dismal assessment of the American economy has remained the same since a month ago, before the recent banking system fiasco. Only a quarter of respondents say nationwide economic conditions are good, with three quarters classifying them as poor. 

However, 43% of Democrats maintain the economy is good, versus only 7% of Republicans. 

Around half of American adults describe their finances as good, a drop from last year when about 6 in 10 said the same. About 6 in 10 Dems and around half of GOP respondents gave upbeat assessments of their current financial position. 

With a Democrat president occupying the White House, Republicans are more likely than Democrats (36% to 15%) to state they expect their finances to worsen over the next year; 38% of Dems say they expect their finances to improve, versus 22% of Republicans. 

Around half of the American adults expect the economic conditions in the U.S. to deteriorate over the next year. However, a divide remains. About three-quarters of Republicans but only one-third of Democrats expect the national economy to worsen. 

U.S. households have been hard hit by inflation, which started to gain steam in the spring of 2021. When adjusted for inflation, American hourly wages have fallen for 23 straight months compared to a year earlier. 

Responding to surging consumer prices, the Federal Reserve raised its benchmark interest rate nine times over the past year, including a quarter-point increase on Wednesday. However, the rate hikes are causing a strain on banks. Silicon Valley Bank found itself in trouble as higher interest rates pushed down the value of its bond investments. 

The poll included 1,081 adults and was conducted March 16-20 using a sample from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak Panel. The panel was designed to be representative of the American population. The margin of error for all respondents sampled is plus or minus 4.0 percentage points.