NEW YORK Two-thirds of people believe "massive government spending" to combat the financial crisis shows a lack of clear direction, according to a poll of nations representing 75 percent of the global economy issued on Wednesday.
The Ipsos/Reuters survey also found that 60 percent of the people in the 23 countries polled say increased government regulation will stifle economic growth, an opinion particularly strong in the United States and emerging market giants India and China.
Clifford Young of Ipsos Global Public Affairs, the international market research and polling company that carried out the online poll, said the survey showed opinions were mixed with a majority still wanting more government action on the economic downturn despite their concerns.
"There's worry and some degree of uncertainty about government actions," Young said. "The general message is we want governments to do something, but not too much, and we don't want to go back to the dark ages."
The survey of 23,000 people, conducted from April 14 to May 7, showed 58 percent don't think the United States has done enough to reinvigorate the global economy, 53 percent believe the European Union needs to do more, and more than two-thirds think China has not done enough.
Opinions were mixed on what actions should be taken, with 54 percent of people saying governments needed to do more to restrict imports, while two out of three people were worried about other nations blocking exports from their country.
JOBS STILL TOP ISSUE
Ipsos polled people in the United States, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, South Korea, China, Japan, Australia, India, Russia, Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Turkey, Sweden, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, France, Spain and Britain.
Young said there was a particular "fear of backtracking in emerging markets" where it has taken a long time to push the government out of the private sector.
The poll showed 83 percent of people in India think more government regulation will stifle economic growth, an opinion shared by 72 percent of people in Mexico and China, 69 percent in Poland, 66 percent in Turkey and 65 percent in Russia.
In the United States -- where the government is set to own 60 percent of a new, leaner General Motors Corp as part of the automaker's bankruptcy filing on Monday and billions of dollars in federal funds gone to bail out banks -- 60 percent are wary of more government regulation.
Jobs and unemployment strengthened as the No. 1 global issue with 53 percent saying it is their top concern -- a 12-point increase in the past six months -- and nearly three-quarters saying they know someone who has lost a job.
"It suggests a political issue; it suggests that jobs are the agenda," Young said. "There's immense pressure on governments to react."
Respondents in the online poll were recruited and screened, the survey said. The results were then balanced by age, gender, city population and education levels. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 percent.
(Editing by Daniel Trotta and Eric Walsh)