TIME Poll: Americans Are Uneasy with Wall Street

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Mira Oberman / AFP / Getty

Thousands of protestors demonstrate for bank reform during a march to the Sheraton Hotel where the American Bankers Association's annual convention was being held October 27, 2009 in Chicago.

Americans are not happy about the huge taxpayer assistance to Wall Street and feel pessimistic about their own economic situation. That's the finding of a new TIME poll (conducted by research firm Abt SRBI) done in late October.

Among the poll's findings: More than 90% of Americans see the country's economic conditions as only fair or poor, and despite heavy government spending to counter the recession, slightly more than half of those polled feel there has been no improvement in their personal economic situation. Perhaps most troubling, the TIME poll reveals that Americans fear what's to come next from Wall Street. In hindsight, 55% believe the government rescue of financial institutions was wrong, and a majority also believe that the financial industry has too much influence in Washington.

Despite widely televised Congressional hearings in recent weeks on financial reform, 75% of those polled expect Wall Street to return to dangerous activities. Americans clearly want action: some 62% believe financial regulations need to be tougher, and 67% want the government to force pay cuts on top executives at Wall Street firms that received government bailout money. It's a bit of a turnaround for a country that has been leaning toward the less-regulation-is-better model of government. Yet most people are still wary of giving Washington too much say in running businesses. The majority, 57%, don't want government interfering with free enterprise. At least until it runs off the rails.