Monday, November 15, 2010

Are Things Getting Better for Small Business?

From Bloomberg:

Small businesses are bouncing back as access to lending eases and consumers ramp up purchases. This would be welcome news for policy makers struggling to spur the world’s largest economy and bring down unemployment stalled near a 26-year high, because small companies account for 60 percent of job creation, according to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke. The Fed said Nov. 3 it plans to buy another $600 billion of Treasuries, citing “disappointingly slow” progress in the recovery.

“The winds are changing in favor of small businesses,” said Ryan Sweet, senior economist at Moody’s Analytics Inc. in West Chester, Pennsylvania. “It is a gradual improvement, but they’re definitely more active than they were a few months ago. As these businesses re-engage, it’ll put the recovery on a more solid footing.”


“This looks to us like the start of a serious improvement,” Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics Ltd. in Valhalla, New York, said in a note to clients after the NFIB report on Nov. 9. “We have long argued that a proper recovery in the broad economy requires a sustained improvement in the small-firm sector, which employs half the workforce.”

A month earlier, Shepherdson had written that September NFIB data indicated “progress is slow and small firms remain deeply depressed.”


One source of relief for small companies is the thaw in lending, reinforced by the Fed’s quarterly survey of senior loan officers, released Nov. 8. Fed officials have held more than 40 meetings this year to try to reverse the drop in credit, and Bernanke said in an Oct. 15 speech that regulators have “seen some positive signs.”