Yes, Virginia, there is some business credit.
There is some light at the end of the tunnel regarding the availability of business credit, and it’s not an on-rushing train.
Wisconsin’s smaller community banks are stepping in to fill the breach left by hesitant larger banks. According to the Community Bankers of Wisconsin’s “Banconomics” report, Wisconsin banks with assets under $1 billion saw their lending increase by 33.5% in 2008 over 2007, while state banks with over $1 billion in assets grew their loans by only 4%.
While they may not have as much capital to devote to each loan, “community banks are doing the lending,” noted Charles Saeman, president/CEO of the State Bank of Cross Plains.
State Bank of Cross Plains saw its lending increase by 15%, or $71 million, between March of 2008 and 2009 — hardly the most robust economic period in American history.
Thanks to more stringent lending requirements from government-controlled Mortgage financiers Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac, which includes higher down payments, real estate lending is one area that has been hampered. However, with home prices so low, it’s also a great time to purchase a house. Something has to give.
Through the Small Businesses Administration, the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act has made some deferred-payment loans available to businesses that are struggling to meet their debt obligations. Beginning June 15, interest-free loans of up to $35,000 will be made available to viable, small businesses that need help in making principal and interest payments on qualifying debt (including mortgages, revolving lines of credit, capital leases, and notes payable to vendors). Repayment of the principal does not begin until 12 months after the final disbursement, and the loans will be made by commercial lenders.
In a recession, the economic news is not all bad.
Case in point: we’ve heard for years about the nursing shortage, and it’s real. My own sister, a registered nurse, travels to health care facilities from coast-to-coast to fill in where required. Well, there is growing evidence that in this economy, more people are pursuing entry-level nursing and nursing assistants positions because that’s where the need is most acute. Health care really is one of the few stable areas of the economy.
Likewise, credit is more readily available than many businesses presume. The good that comes out of this wrenching experience is that reckless lending is largely a thing of the past. We hope.