Wall Streeters and bankers are not a popular crowd right now.
Polls show people don’t trust them, and don’t think much of their ethics. Take this one:
A CNN/ORC International pollreleased on Monday reveals that the vast majority of those surveyed think Wall Street is filled with greedy, overpaid and dishonest bankers.
According to the survey, 80 percent would characterize those working on Wall Street as greedy, 77 percent say they are paid too much, and 65 percent think they are dishonest.
… And just over half of Americans — 54 percent — say they absolutely do not trust Wall Street bankers and brokers to do what is best for the economy. Just 3 percent told pollsters they trust Wall Street a great deal, with 42 percent saying they trusted the bankers and brokers either somewhat or a little to do the right thing for the economy.
And that makes things like this more attractive to prosecutors:
A prominent former Goldman Sachs board member was expected to surrender to federal authorities on Wednesday to face criminal charges stemming from a massive hedge fund insider trading case, according to two people familiar with the case.
Rajat Gupta was expected to appear in federal court in Manhattan.
The two people, who have inside knowledge of the case, confirmed Tuesday night that Gupta intended to surrender but declined to say what the charges are. They spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the charges hadn’t been formally announced.
The Securities and Exchange Commissioner originally brought civil fraud charges against Gupta in March. The SEC alleged that, at the height of the financial crisis, he passed along privileged financial information that helped enrich Raj Rajaratnam, a former billionaire hedge fund manager who was the prime target of the criminal probe.
Gupta’s lawyer responded by accusing the SEC of launching a “flawed case premised in large part on unreliable evidence being used in an attempt to bring down a man of sterling reputation and remarkable achievements without the procedural safeguards historically accorded to all persons similarly charged.”
The Indian-born, Harvard-educated Gupta also has served on the boards of Procter & Gamble and the parent company for American Airlines. He was a guest at President Obama’s first state dinner.
Gupta’s name played prominently at the criminal trial earlier this year of Rajaratnam, who was convicted after prosecutors used a trove of wiretaps on which he could be heard coaxing a crew of corporate tipsters into giving him an illegal edge on blockbuster trades.
Jurors heard testimony that at an Oct. 23, 2008, Goldman board meeting, members were told that the investment bank was facing a quarterly loss for the first time since it had gone public in 1999.
Prosecutors produced phone records showing Gupta called Rajaratnam 23 seconds after the meeting ended, causing Rajaratnam to sell his entire position in Goldman the next morning and save millions of dollars.
Rajaratnam also earned close to $1 million when Gupta told him that Goldman had received an offer from Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway to invest $5 billion in the banking giant, prosecutors said.
Will we start seeing more action taken against Wall Street traders and bankers? If public opinion remains this sour on the Street, who knows. After all, negative public opinion might embolden prosecutors who might otherwise shy away from the powerful economic titans of lower Manhattan.
And as the Occupy movement digs in, and continues to slowly grow its support among the fed up American public, the environment in which the 1 percenters are operating is changing and changing fast. If I’m on the board of a major corporation, I’m wondering where this goes, and how to rebuild public perception of my firm, versus the perceived “bad guys” out there.
BTW, while 32 percent of those polled in the CNN/ORC survey above expressed a favorable view of the Occupy movement (poll taken from October 14-16), with 29 percent unfavorable, a more recent poll, by CBS and the New York Times, shows 43 percent of respondents agreeing with the views of OWS, versus 27 percent who disagree. That’s a trend in the wrong direction for Wall Street. Worse for the Street, 67 percent of independents agreed with the overwhelming majority of Democrats that “wealth is distributed unfairly” in America. Maybe that’s because while the rest of the country is stagnating, the very rich just keep getting richer.
And for those of you keeping tab for the elections, here’s the demo breakdown:
Young and left-leaning Americans were more likely to agree with the movement than were their older and more conservative counterparts. Half of Americans ages 18-29 say they agree with the movement; just one in three Americans age 65 or older say the same. And two thirds of liberals say they agree with “Occupy Wall Street” compared with just one in four conservatives.
Americans with at least some college education are more likely to agree with the movement than those with less education. Nearly half of those with at least some college education say they agree with “Occupy Wall Street”; among those who did not attend college, that figure drops to 37 percent.