David Kirkpatrick

July 14, 2010

How banks are damaging small business and the economy

This ought to be sobering news for anyone still fretting over the state of the economy and why Main Street isn’t feeling anything close to a recovery right now.

From the link:

In the last two years, $40 billion worth of loans to small businesses have evaporated, and correcting the problem should be “front and center among our current policy challenges,” Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, said in a speech Monday.

Loans to small businesses dropped from more than $710 billion in the second quarter of 2008 to less than $670 billion in the first quarter of 2010, according to bank financial reports submitted to the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council.

Looking at these two reasons for the dramatic drop in business credit the first certainly has a role, but the second is the actual killer. I know of many small businesses that would happily take on new debt but can’t because their credit lines were slashed to the bone (sometimes for no discernible reason other than the overall economy was bad) and haven’t seen that credit flexibility return to this day.

He cited weaker demand from Main Street businesses worried about taking on more debt during tough times, “deterioration in the financial condition of small businesses during the economic downturn,” and a lack of supply of available credit.

“Clearly, though, to support the recovery, we need to find ways to ensure that creditworthy borrowers have access to needed loans,” Bernanke said.

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