Global trust in business is improving, according to Edelman's annual Trust Barometer survey, despite wide expectations that banks will revert to 'business as usual' after the recession.
The rebound is fuelled by "a spike in a handful of Western countries" and especially the United States, where it grew 18 percentage points last year to hit 54%, according to the 2010 edition of Edelman's annual Trust Barometer, presented in Brussels on 30 March.
In Europe, the biggest jumps of trust in business were recorded in Italy (26 points), the Netherlands (15 points) and Spain (14 points).
Nevertheless, trust in banks remains at rock bottom, with huge declines seen in most Western countries between 2007 and 2010. The most dramatic falls were recorded in the US (69 to 29%) and the UK (41 to 21%).
Indeed, 70% of respondents worldwide expect business and financial companies "to revert to 'business as usual' after the recession".
As for the EU, large majorities in Germany (78%), France (74%) and the UK (67%) believe companies will continue to behave as before once the crisis is over.
"Trust in business has improved, but the patient has a long road to go for a full recovery," said Edelman President and CEO Richard Edelman.
Warning that "the increase in trust in business belies its fragility," the PR chief said "there is concern that short-term actions have been taken only as a result of the crisis and that government will need to remain a watchdog".
"Companies will have to prove the sceptics wrong and show they can achieve both profit and purpose," Edelman added.
Indeed, the survey reveals that trust and transparency are now of equal importance to corporate reputation as the quality of the products and services provided by companies.
NGOs, meanwhile, fared well in the report, and were identified as the most trusted type of organisation in eight countries including the USA, the UK, Germany and France.
As for individual industrial sectors, technology emerged as the most trusted (79% trust technology firms "to do what is right"), while insurance firms, banks and media companies were the three least-trusted sectors.
"With the dispersion of traditional media's authority and the rise of opinion journalism, trust in the institution as a whole has waned," the researchers concluded.