PRINCETON, NJ -- About one in three Americans say they are following the news about the banking crisis in the country of Cyprus very (10%) or somewhat closely (21%). Upper-income Americans, though, are paying greater attention, with half saying they are watching the situation closely -- twice the percentage of those with middle and lower incomes. Older Americans are also paying closer attention than their younger counterparts.
These data were collected as part of Gallup Daily tracking March 20-21. Over the past week, banks in the country of Cyprus have been closed as the government attempts to deal with the potential collapse of its banking system. The European Central Bank has been providing liquidity for Cyprus banks but has given the government until Monday, March 25 to resolve the problems with its banks. Meanwhile, there are long lines at the country's ATMs.
Fourteen percent of all Americans say the events in Cyprus have caused them to have less confidence in U.S. banks, while 17% say the crisis has not had a negative impact on their confidence.
Among Americans who are following the Cyprus banking crisis closely, 45% -- which is equal to 14% of all Americans -- say the situation has caused them to have less confidence in U.S. banks and financial institutions.
Americans' lack of interest in the Cyprus banking crisis is consistent with Wall Street's modest reaction. It appears Cyprus' small size and its unique characteristics have led most observers to conclude that any potential financial contagion associated with the crisis will be limited.
However, many of those who are following the crisis in Cyprus seem to recognize that this situation may have implications for the strength of the global banking system and are perhaps concerned about what it means for the guarantee of customer deposits. In this context, it is not Cyprus' absolute size or its banking business that is most important, but instead, its impact on bank depositor confidence worldwide.
As the financial crisis of 2008-2009 showed, Americans' confidence in the U.S. banking system is fragile, and can easily dissipate. It is also extremely difficult to rebuild. Nothing illustrates the potential fragility of the U.S. banking situation more clearly than the fact that nearly half of Americans who are paying attention to the Cyprus banking crisis -- although this is only 14% of all Americans right now -- tell Gallup the situation has caused them to have less confidence in U.S. banks.
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted March 20-21, 2013, on the Gallup Daily tracking survey, with a random sample of 1,020 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.
Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by region. Landline telephone numbers are chosen at random among listed telephone numbers. Cellphones numbers are selected using random digit dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.
Samples are weighted to correct for unequal selection probability, nonresponse, and double coverage of landline and cell users in the two sampling frames. They are also weighted to match the national demographics of gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, population density, and phone status (cellphone only/landline only/both, cellphone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2012 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older U.S. population. Phone status targets are based on the July-December 2011 National Health Interview Survey. Population density targets are based on the 2010 census. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting.
In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.
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