SMB owners are borrowing money again, or so says a study conducted by PayNet Inc for Reuters. The study found that smaller "microcompanies" are gaining confidence in their business and enjoying an overall improved financial health, which is good news for the economy. These businesses are often thought of as the best hope for job creation during economic recovery.
According to the study, which examined loans, leases, and lines of credit activity, businesses with less than $100,000 in outstanding debt are borrowing cautiously to invest money into their own companies. Financing originations are still down but they are no longer failing faster than the originations for larger small businesses (or those who have debt totalling above $100,000). This is an improvement over the last three years.
"This looks like an inflection point," William Phelan, the president of PayNet, said of the study. "These little businesses are a leading indicator and the signals they're sending are improving."
Another encouraging sign is that delinquencies among these companies peaked at some point during the spring of this year, but have since began to improve. Phelan says a correlation can be made between microbusiness borrowing delinquencies and GDP and that makes for another encouraging sign.
Currently, most recovery efforts have come from a government stimulus effort, including the auto industry's "cash for clunkers" and $8,000 tax credits fro first-time home buyers. But experts say a true recovery must come from private industry and customer demand, particularly small businesses.
And while critics have blasted banks who received government bailout money for not turning around and investing the money into the economy, several big banks have recently announced plans to do more small business lending. These institutions include Citigroup, J.P. Morgan, and Goldman Sachs.
PayNet provides risk management tools to the commercial lending industry. The company collects real-time loan information, including orginations and delinquencies, from over 225 leading U.S. capital equipment lenders and its proprietary database encompasses more than 16 million old and new contracts worth about $700 billion.