By John Harwood
Five years after the financial crisis, Americans continue to hold sharply negative views of Wall Street, according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.
The survey shows that just 14 percent of Americans view Wall Street firms favorably, while 42 percent view them negatively. When asked specifically about JPMorgan Chase (JPM), a firm embroiled in controversy, 14 percent have a positive view and 42 percent have a negative view.
Those results come amid continued public unhappiness with the state of the country. By a 2-to-1 margin, the public says the country is on the wrong track. Just 27 percent expect the economy to get better in the next year; 24 percent expect it to get worse, and 48 percent expect it to stay the same. Fewer than half (45 percent) approve of President Barack Obama's handling of the economy, while 52 percent disapprove.
The financial concern Americans most frequently mentioned was access to affordable health care; 34 percent said they worry about it. Some 29 percent said they worry about saving enough for retirement; 26 percent identified paying for groceries and utility bills, followed by college costs (21 percent), job security (17 percent) and housing costs (17 percent).
When asked how much they were personally affected by the crises on Wall Street and in the housing market over the past five years, 52 percent said "some" or "a great deal," while 47 percent said "only a little" or "not at all." That reflects a slight cooling of concerns expressed in the middle of the crisis, when 59 percent said some or a great deal and just 41 percent said only a little or not at all.
The survey was taken as Congress approaches a decision on raising the nation's debt limit, which the Treasury Department says will be reached in mid-October. Some 22 percent say Congress should raise it, while 44 percent lawmakers shouldn't. Another 33 percent don't know enough about the issue to say. At a similar point two years ago, Americans were slightly more opposed, with 16 percent saying it should be raised and 46 percent saying it shouldn't.
The telephone poll of 1,000 adults, conducted Sept. 5-8, carries a margin for error of 3.1 percentage points.