With Congress having passing legislation to more tightly regulate the financial sector, bankers and Wall Streeters may feel queasy. But will consumers feel more secure about how their money is being handled? Alas, no, to judge by the findings of a Bloomberg National Poll conducted in the days leading up to the measure's passage yesterday by the Senate.
Though the legislation (expected to be signed into law next week by the president) is heralded as the most important tightening of financial regulation since the New Deal, respondents to the poll don't see it as a big deal -- at least not for themselves.
Asked whether they think it "does more to protect the financial industry or more to protect consumers," 47 percent picked the former view and 38 percent the latter. (Most of the rest were unsure.)
While 21 percent said they think the new law will compel "big Wall Street banks" to make "major changes in the way they do business," 22 percent expect "minor changes" and 47 percent "very little if any change."
But will the new law save us from another meltdown of the financial system? Five percent of respondents were "very confident" and 13 percent "fairly confident" that it "will prevent or seriously soften the impact of another crisis." Thirty-five percent said they're "just somewhat confident" on that score, and 44 percent are "not confident."
That's consistent with the responses when people were asked whether the new regulatory regime "will make your savings and financial assets more secure." Fewer than one in five were "very confident" (4 percent) or "fairly confident" (15 percent) that it would do so, with another 38 percent "just somewhat confident." Forty percent were "not confident."