Fed, Chamber Chairmen Talk Small Business Lending
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I had the opportunity to attend a forum, Overcoming Obstacles to Small Business Lending, sponsored jointly by CNBC and the FDIC. U.S. Chamber Chairman Tom Bell was featured on a panel with Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair, and U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D-VA).
Bell noted that the most important thing that policymakers can do to improve the lending environment is to enact policies that will spur overall economic growth. Growth will improve small business cash flows, which in turn will make them more credit worthy in the eyes of banks.
According to Bell, uncertainty is hampering economic growth. Recent legislation extending the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for two years has eased some uncertainty, but those rates should be made permanent, he said. Regulatory uncertainty--notably the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory law--is also having an adverse impact on the economy and lending, Bell added.
Bell also said that pending free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea will spur economic growth by creating millions of new customers for U.S. small businesses.
A couple of other noteworthy comments from other panelists…
- Fed Chief Bernanke expects the economy to grow 3%-4% in 2011.
- Senator Warner explained that the mixed message being sent to banks--improve your balance sheet but keep lending--has depressed lending.
Check out the Chamber’s report on small business access to capital. And watch clips from the event below: