Monday, October 10, 2011

40-year low in America's view of Wall Street: Anger at all-time high

The Occupy Wall Street protest may be the answer to a favorite question of social scientists ever since the bank bailouts of 2008 -- where is the social movement? Americans are famously willing to tolerate a relatively large amount of income inequality (especially compared to our European counterparts). Americans love meritocracy, and are typically quite happy to see hard work rewarded, even to the tune of millions of dollars, as is often the case on Wall Street. But there is a catch — we want the rules of the game to be fair.

Recent scandals involving Wall Street banks and financial institutions, headed by some of the world's most well-paid managers, executives and analysts, have many Americans asking themselves whether this game is rigged. It is this sense of injustice, coupled with economic insecurity, that animates changes in Americans' attitudes toward Wall Street. It's not just a small number of Americans, those who are actually "occupying" Wall Street, who feel such injustice. That's just the tip of the iceberg. more