Wall Street rates poorly for ethics, honesty

Fri Feb 27, 2009 9:41am EST
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By Ellen Wulfhorst

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Americans hold a dim view of business executives, giving them poor grades for honesty and ethics and blaming them for business failures, according to a survey released on Thursday.

Nearly 60 percent gave the worst grades to Wall Street executives for honesty and ethical practices, according to research conducted by the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion in Poughkeepsie, New York.

Corporate executives fared slightly better, getting poor grades from 49 percent of those polled.

Lawyers fared even better, getting bad grades from a third of respondents but excellent grades from a quarter of them.

The poll, commissioned by the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal and charitable organization, questioned 2,071 U.S. adults and 110 business executives.

Some 58 percent of the adults gave poor grades to top business executives for leadership during the economic crisis, while 31 percent rated them as fair, 9 percent as good and 2 percent as excellent.

Among the executives, only 19 percent gave themselves poor grades for leadership, while 53 percent rated themselves as fair, 27 percent as good and 1 percent as excellent.

Nearly 70 percent of the adults blame a company's failure or success on the decisions of its top executives. Just 31 percent blame outside forces such as the economy's health.   Continued...

<p>A man passes in front of a sign on Wall Street in New York, February 10, 2009. REUTERS/Eric Thayer</p>