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Americans Believe Wall Street Requires More Regulation

By Hal M. Bundrick

NEW YORK (MainStreet)--Wall Street needs to bring a new sheriff into town. Americans believe that the financial services industry needs tougher regulations - and that sentiment is growing, according to a new national survey of over 1000 likely 2014 voters conducted by Lake Research Partners on behalf of Americans for Financial Reform and the Center for Responsible Lending.

Almost five years after the financial crisis, investors are still looking for significant reform of the U.S. money market. When asked, "Should Wall Street financial companies be held accountable with tougher rules and enforcement for the practices that caused the financial crisis, or have their practices changed enough that they don't need further regulation?" 83% of respondents supported stronger rules and enforcement, compared to just 9% who believe that the financial industry has changed its ways and requires no additional regulation. In 2012, the pro-reform position was favored by 73% of those surveyed; in 2011, the figure was 77%.

The results of this recent survey mirror those of a January poll of small business owners where 80% of respondents believed regulations should be strengthened to hold financial companies accountable for the practices that caused the financial collapse. Only one in five said that these companies' practices had changed enough that they didn't require more regulation.

Nearly two-thirds (63%) of the likely voters surveyed agreed with the view that Wall Street must be held accountable and prevented from repeating past actions. Just 41% thought that excessive regulation would hurt the economy.

After hearing a short description of the agency, 8 in 10 voters favored the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the first federal agency whose focus is educating and protecting consumers in financial matters. Nearly half (49%) strongly favored it. And the show of support for the CFPB was held by voters across party lines, including 91% of Democrats, 79% of independents, and 71% of Republicans.

--Written by Hal M. Bundrick