Global poll sees support for spending stimulus

LONDON Mon Sep 14, 2009 8:02am EDT

A sign announces a section of road work funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act U.S. economic stimulus plan in the Denver area, September 10, 2009. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

A sign announces a section of road work funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act U.S. economic stimulus plan in the Denver area, September 10, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Rick Wilking

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LONDON (Reuters) - Most people around the world support significantly increasing government spending to counter the economic crisis, according to a 20-nation opinion poll released on Monday.

The findings will bring solace to leaders such as British Prime Minister Gordon Brown who have backed multi-billion-dollar stimulus programs to try to lift their economies out of recession.

G20 finance leaders agreed this month they would not remove emergency stimulus until the recovery was well entrenched.

The survey of more than 22,000 people in 20 countries for the BBC World Service found that, on average, 60 percent favored "significantly increasing government spending to stimulate the economy."

Support for government stimulus of the economy was highest in Nigeria (87 percent support), Egypt (83 percent), and Russia (81 percent). Support was much lower in France (39 percent) and Germany (42 percent).

In Britain, 60 percent favored significantly increasing government spending to stimulate the economy.

Americans were divided on the question, with 48 percent in favor and 48 percent against.

"People around the world are looking for a dynamic approach to the economic crisis," said Steven Kull, director of the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland in the United States, which conducted the survey with Canadian polling firm GlobeScan.

The poll found that support was especially strong for investments in renewable energy and green technology (72 percent) and for giving financial support to major industries and companies in trouble (62 percent).

BACKING FOR MORE REGULATION

However, only a slight majority (51 percent) supported giving financial support to banks in trouble.

In the United States, majorities opposed giving financial support to troubled banks (63 percent against) or industries (55 percent against).

Two-thirds of those polled wanted to see an increase in government regulation and oversight of their economies.

Just under half (49 percent) supported giving international institutions more power to regulate the global economy.

The U.S. government's efforts to address the crisis, which have included far-reaching measures to stimulate the U.S. economy, were relatively well received around the world.

Nearly half (46 percent) of all respondents said they were satisfied with what the United States has been doing, compared with 39 percent who were dissatisfied.

By contrast, 44 percent on average were satisfied with their own government's response.

Satisfaction with their own government's response ranged from 68 percent in Australia, 63 percent in Egypt and 59 percent in Brazil to 27 percent in France, 18 percent in Japan and just nine percent in Mexico.

Americans were evenly split between those happy and those unhappy with their government's response.

"It is clear that citizens in many countries are still not seeing the kind of economic leadership they think is needed from their national government," GlobeScan Chairman Doug Miller said.

The poll found low public confidence in executives of major banks -- an average of just 32 percent were satisfied with what they were doing to address the crisis.

Many people are angry over high rewards enjoyed by bankers, blaming bonuses for excessive risk-taking that contributed to last year's market crisis.

In total, 22,158 people in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Russia, Turkey, Britain and the United States were polled between June 19 and August 17.

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