LONDON More than a third of Britons blame the U.S. for the financial crisis and economic downturn, according to a survey, and three-quarters say they have little or no faith in banks.
The research, by advertising agency McCann Erickson, found almost 40 percent of people blamed the U.S. for the credit crisis, with 27 percent saying U.S. banks were responsible and 10 percent pointing the finger at the outgoing U.S. government.
Only 18 percent blamed Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who has repeatedly referred to the financial turmoil as having started in the U.S.
In his pre-budget report on Monday, Chancellor Alistair Darling pointedly echoed the line, saying the crisis began in the U.S. housing market and spread to the entire global financial system.
At a time when business and consumer confidence is weak, the survey found lack of trust in banks was high. Half of those questioned said they had little faith in the financial sector, and a quarter said they didn't trust banks at all.
"What is absolutely clear is that the recent credit crisis has badly damaged any bond of trust that existed between the public and many areas of business and government," said Nikki Crumpton of McCann Erickson, "The credit crisis looks like the final nail in the coffin."
Despite journalists routinely topping lists of the least trusted profession, the survey found BBC business editor Robert Peston was seen as a more trustworthy source of information about the economy than either Brown or Conservative leader David Cameron.
A quarter of those surveyed chose Peston compared with 7 percent who picked Brown and just 4 percent who thought Cameron the most trustworthy when it came to information about the economy.
(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan, Editing by Steve Addison)