While U.S. financial regulators haven't forgotten how banks fueled the economic meltdown of 2008, it looks like bad banking memories are beginning to fade from the minds of U.S. consumers.
The results of a Gallup poll that surveyed more than 1,500 U.S. adults show that 26 percent of consumers have a great deal of confidence in banks. While that figure may seem low, it's still an improvement from the 2012 findings when just 21 percent of the population felt confident about the outlook for financial institutions.
"It is not clear exactly what is driving Americans' improved confidence in banks, but most authorities agree that U.S. banks did well on their stress tests and that banks' balance sheets are much improved, as are their earnings," writes Dennis Jacobe, chief economist of Gallup.
Still, banks have a long way to go as they work to regain the trust of the American public. In 2007, before the housing market imploded and banks stood under a very hot spotlight, the same Gallup poll indicated that 41 percent of Americans believed in banks. The past few years have given them plenty of reasons to doubt those beliefs. From interest rate-fixing scandals to mortgage fraud to money laundering, many members of the banking industry have found themselves in the midst of a public relations nightmare.
The Gallup poll surveys Americans' confidence on a number of institutions -- not just banks. While consumer confidence in the military, small businesses and the medical system all ranked higher than banks, banking executives can be thankful that their companies are performing much better than one very important U.S. institution: Congress. Confidence in lawmakers on Capitol Hill clocked in at a measly 10 percent.
What do you think of the banking industry? Are you more confident about its stability today than you were a few years ago?