Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Easy but Not too easy

The Fed and the Administration want to provide more money to banks to lend to small businesses. One question needs to be asked before determining whether this makes any sense. Will the lending guidelines that will be forced upon the banks be the same as the government’s (almost non-existent) mortgage lending guidelines that created the current economic situation? Banks are supposed to lend to businesses that have an expectation of paying the loan back. Giving away money will not help anything. That does not mean they should not lend to small businesses or do so without risk. It means reasonable lending criteria. Some things are easy – like not giving mortgage credits to people in jail – but the government couldn’t manage to avoid that. Some are made harder with government interference, quotas and set asides.
Banks have money; the government just has to create the situation where they can lend and small businesses can expand. Immediate write-off of capital expenses would be a start; dropping all the expenses for a new employee would be a good follow up.

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