Six Years Later, Voters Still Down on AIG, Fannie and Freddie

Voters have long memories, at least when it comes to government bailouts.

Six years after the financial crisis, approval ratings for American International Group Inc., Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are lower than banks and other financial institutions, according to a new Morning Consult poll. While the government-sponsored enterprises and AIG have improved their finances, registered voters still seem to associate them with bad times of the Great Recession more than other Wall Street firms.

The prospect of a Republican-led Congress next year increases the odds that lawmakers will take a new approach toward regulating banks and insurers considered systemically important to the U.S. financial system. Those changes could include an overhaul of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which purchase and securitize loans. The GSEs, along with AIG, came under fire during the financial crisis when the government used taxpayer dollars to rescue the firms.

To hear voters tell it, changes to the GSEs can’t come soon enough.

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Morning Consult asked registered voters for their views on the 10 financial institutions that were included in the top 50 spots of the Fortune 500 list. Freddie Mac had the lowest approval rating, at 29 percent. Fannie Mae had a slightly better reputation, with 34 percent. Of the three insurance companies included in the poll, AIG had the lowest approval rating, at 37 percent.

The poll was conducted Oct. 19-20 among a national sample of 1,016 registered voters. The results have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

State Farm emerged as the financial institution with the highest favorable ratings, with 71 percent. Fellow insurer MetLife Inc. followed with 63 percent, and Wells Fargo had 58 percent.

Wells Fargo was also the most favorable bank, at 58 percent, followed by JPMorgan’s 51 percent. Favorability ratings for Citigroup and Bank of America were 49 percent and 47 percent, respectively.

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When broken down along political party lines, more Democrats favored Bank of America, while Republicans leaned toward Citigroup. Wells Fargo and JPMorgan both saw little differences across all parties.

Collectively, banks were the most well-known compared to companies in the energy, healthcare and technology fields that were included in the same poll. Zero percent of voters said they hadn’t heard of Bank of America, and only 1 percent hadn’t heard of Wells Fargo. Three percent said they hadn’t heard of JPMorgan, and 6 percent were unfamiliar with Citigroup.

And while Warren Buffett may be a household name, the same can’t be said about his company, Berkshire Hathaway. Forty percent of respondents said they’d never heard of the firm.

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