A new Harris Interactive/France 24/International Herald Tribune survey conducted online by Harris Interactive among a total of 6,735 adults aged 16 to 64 within France, Germany, Great Britain, Spain, the United States, and adults aged 18 to 64 in Italy, between April 30 and May 14, 2008 finds that there is some worry about the future of banks and financial markets, but also some sense of the unknown:
- Over one-third of French (36%), German (35%) and U.S. (35%) adults as well as 27 percent of British adults are not at all concerned they might lose money deposited in their bank if their were to be a collapse of the banking system. Two in five Spaniards (41%) and over one-third of Italians (35%), however, say they are concerned;
- Majorities in Great Britain (53%) and Italy (52%) and pluralities in Spain (47%) and Germany (43%) are not at all sure when a financial collapse similar to the fallout after the 1929 U.S. stock market crash may occur in economic markets;
- One in five French adults (21%) believe a collapse will happen within the next 1-2 years, while almost the same number (22%) say it will happen within the next 3-5 years. One in five Americans (19%) say such a collapse will never happen.
When it comes to how banks treat their clients:
- Majorities in Italy (57%) and Great Britain (50%), as well as relative majorities in France (47%) and Spain (43%), all believe their banks treat them primarily as a source of revenue and only secondarily as a valued client;
- Germans lean toward the idea of being treated as a source of revenue first (37%), then a valued client as much as a revenue source (36%). Americans feel the reverse (35% versus 34%);
- Less than one in five adults in all six countries (between 17% in the U.S. and 7% in France) believes they are treated primarily as a valued client and only secondarily as a revenue source.
There is a sense of disagreement among these countries as to how much of a role the government should play and also which currency is the dominant one today:
- Two-thirds of Italians (66%), a plurality of Spaniards (44%) and one-third (35%) of French adults believe their government should intervene more in financial and banking systems;
- Two-thirds of Germans (66%) say they are not at all sure about government's intervention in banking and financial systems;
- One-third (32%) of Americans believe the government is intervening as much as it should;
- British adults are split with three in ten (29%) wanting more intervention and the same number saying government is intervening as much as it should;
- Almost half of French adults (47%), 40 percent of U.S. adults and one-third (32%) of British adults believe the Dollar is the worldwide reference currency today;
- On the other hand, three in five Spaniards (61%) and Germans (59%) as well as just under half of Italians (48%) say that the Euro is the worldwide reference currency today. Interestingly, more Americans than Britons also hold this sentiment (31% versus 20%).
At the moment, while there may not be much love for banks as people recognize they are treated as a source of revenue, there also isn't that much worry about a possible crash of the financial markets or a collapse of the banking system. However, if things turn in one of these countries, there is a good chance that the reverberations will swiftly move through the other five and attitudes will change very fast.
This Harris Interactive/France 24/International Herald Tribune study was conducted online by Harris Interactive among a total of 6,735 adults (aged 16-64) within France (1,288), Germany (1,106), Great Britain (1,088), Spain (1,120) and the United States (1,046) and adults (aged 18-64) in Italy (1,087) between April 30 and May 12, 2008. Figures for age, sex, education, region and Internet usage were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.