Institutional Investors Are Bailout Believers

More than 60% of global institutional investors, large companies, and pension funds think the government bailout would have a good chance of restoring stability to financial markets, according to Greenwich Associates.

The $700 billion government bailout was rejected on Monday by the U.S. House of Representatives. Almost 10% of respondents to a survey by Greenwich Associates indicated they are “very confident” that the U.S. government plan to rescue financial markets by buying up troubled financial assets will succeed at restoring order in global markets, according to a Greenwich press release. A majority (52%) are “somewhat confident” that it will succeed, while 15% say they are uncertain. Almost 25% of survey respondents say they are “not at all confident’ that the plan would have the intended effect.

Nearly two-thirds of survey respondents believe that some form of government intervention will be required to shore up markets. “Less than a quarter of respondents say they are confident that the free market can correct itself,’ said Greenwich Associates Consultant Peter D’Amario, in the press release. But, D’Amario noted, 23% respondents in North America have more faith in the free market than their peers in Europe, only 13% of which say they have confidence that the market can right itself on its own.

A Long (Dreary) Road Ahead

While one-third of respondents to Greenwich Associates’ survey believe markets can recover within the next six months, 35% think the downturn will last between seven and 12 months. Nearly a quarter believe the market will not hit bottom for one to two years, and more than 5% think financial markets will not recover for two years or more.

As for the global economy, more than three-quarters of respondents believe they will not see a positive turn for at least one to two years, and more than 20% think they will have to wait more than two years for a recovery. On average, survey respondents predict that the economic downturn will last at least 18 months. Only a quarter of respondent think the economy will recover within the next year.

Everyone’s to Blame

On a global basis, institutional investors, large corporations, and pension funds name investment banks, mortgage underwriters, and ratings agencies as the main culprits in the financial crisis, with 60% to 63% of respondents naming each as being primarily responsible. Slightly more than half of respondents cite government institutions and regulators, with smaller shares assigning blame to consumers and changes in accounting regulations.

“What is striking is the fact that survey respondents assign blame to nearly every party up and down the financial chain, from the individuals who took out mortgages they couldn’t afford and the mortgage underwriters that encouraged them, to the investment banks that packaged the loans into securities and the agencies that rated them,” said Greenwich Associates consultant Steve Busby.

Perceptions of blame vary from region to region. More than 45% of North American respondents say consumers are to blame for the mess, and 73% name mortgage underwriters as being primarily responsible for the crisis. In Europe and Asia only about 20% of respondents say consumers are to blame for the crisis, and respondent in both regions rank mortgage underwriters well behind investment banks and ratings agencies when assigning blame.

Over the past six days, Greenwich Associates surveyed 905 institutional investors, large companies, and pension funds in North America, Europe, and Asia about the U.S. government bailout plan.