Survey: People trust companies more than governments


Survey: People trust companies more than governments
A person passes by a World Economic Forum logo in Davos.

davos - The sense of gloom is strongest in developed markets led by Japan

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Published: Mon 21 Jan 2019, 7:14 PM

Last updated: Mon 21 Jan 2019, 9:15 PM

People around the world place much more trust in their companies than their political leaders, according to a major survey that suggests a mood of uncertainty and pessimism on the eve of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

The annual Edelman Trust Barometer shows only one in five people believe the economic, political and social system is working for them, while nearly 60 per cent think trade conflicts are hurting their companies and putting their jobs at risk.

The sense of gloom is strongest in developed markets led by Japan, where 84 per cent of the general public - excluding the 'informed public' who are college-educated, earn above-average incomes and consume news regularly - do not believe they will be better off in five years' time, followed by France at 79 per cent, Germany at 74 per cent and Britain at 72 per cent. That is far above the average 49 per cent of the 27 countries examined in the research.

Amid low confidence that politicians will fix the problems, these people are turning to companies, with 75 per cent saying they trust "my employer", compared to 48 per cent for government and 47 per cent for the media.

"CEOs now have to be visible, show personal commitment, absolutely step into the void, because we've got a leadership void in the world," Richard Edelman, head of the communications marketing firm that commissioned the research, told Reuters.

Optimism was higher in the United States, where nearly half of the general public believed they would be better off in the next five years. The corresponding figure there was 62 per cent for the better-educated, higher-earning "informed public".

"The stock market was very good, the deregulation and lower taxes for the wealthy - it's pretty good if you are an elite," Edelman said of the US findings.

The survey, based on the opinions of over 33,000 people and conducted between October 19 and November 16, is published on the eve of the Davos gathering in the Swiss Alps, which this year brings together some 3,000 business and world leaders amid anxiety over the US-China trade war, Brexit and a slowdown in global growth.

The pessimism in Japan, France, Germany and Britain reflects a variety of factors.

"I think Japan's never really recovered from Fukushima, there was such a violation of trust when that happened," said Edelman, referring to the authorities' botched response to a massive nuclear accident in 2011.

Signs of slowing global demand and a sharp rise in the yen have clouded the outlook for Japan's export-reliant economy, and the government plans tax hikes to pay for ballooning healthcare costs for its rapidly ageing population. - Reuters

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