For the first time since 2006, banks have reported easing their lending standards on commercial and industrial loans to small businesses.
According to the Federal Reserve Board's July 2010 Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey on Bank Lending Practices released today, small firms, defined as those with less than $50 million in annual sales, are receiving the most relief. The survey was compiled from responses from 57 domestic banks and 23 U.S. branches and agencies of foreign banks.
Domestic banks also reported that they had stopped reducing the size of existing credit lines for commercial and industrial firms on net, which was the first time they had not reported cutting such lines since these questions were added to the Fed survey in January 2009.
Nearly all of the respondents that reported having eased standards or terms on C&I loans cited more aggressive competition from other banks or nonbank lenders as an important reason for doing so.
Meanwhile, commercial real estate loan standards remain tight. Most respondents reported no change in their bank's standards for approving CRE loans. The net percentage of banks that reported that their standards had tightened was small, and it dropped slightly compared to data from the April bank officer survey.