By Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm:
It might sound like the title for a science fiction series, but in banking a "Dark Pool" refers to a fund that allows anonymous investors to trade large blocks of shares. The tactic is the subject of a recent suit by the New York Attorney General against Barclay's bank, with the government claiming the tactic creates a lack of transparency and potentially misleads and defrauds investors. To the limited degree that the public understands it, these "dark pools" are just one more example of the kinds of shady dealings that people now assume define the norm and not the exception in U.S. financial institutions.
There may have been a time when American banks and bankers were held in high esteem: honest brokers and custodians of the nations wealth, promoting progress and development. Not any more. Particularly in the wake of the persistent global downturn that started in 2007, banks are increasingly seen as part of the problem. According to our own most recent polling, 36 percent of jury-eligible respondents held unfavorable views of banks in general, and the more familiar the name of that bank (e.g., Bank of America or Wells Fargo), the greater the unfavorable rating. For banks and other businesses engaged in finance, those attitudes matter. Serving as a starting point for litigation, anti-bank attitudes can make some stories more plausible and other stories less so. This post takes a look at data from our own surveys, as well as other recent polling, and shares four themes that seem to stand out in the public's assessment of banks or other financial institutions.