Anybody Have Any Idea If The Banks Are Lending Or Not?

One of the central themes of the announcement out of Britain today regarding their newest bank bailout was that it would include regulations that forced the banks to start lending again. That’s not far off the tone in a lot of comments that come from Washington. How real a problem is it?

Before I go a step farther let me say that I have no idea but I’m leery when I keep hearing politicians say the same thing over and over again. Rarely does it mean they have hit on a truth. Usually it means they have found something that polls well and is therefore useful to hide behind. 

With that disclaimer, I would like any input any of you might have. I have googled until my fingers hurt but haven’t come across anything really useful. I did find some recent data on the Fed’s website about consumer loans. You can follow the link and make your own conclusions but it doesn’t appear to me that the decline has been all that precipitous. Yes, consumer loans were down towards the end of 2008 but with car sales in the tank and awful retail sales one would expect to see some decline. Naturally, there’s going to be some decline as a result of tightening lending standards.

Here’s where I’m going. There is going to be a lot of stuff coming out of Capitol Hill in the next six weeks regarding banks-we might even end up owning one or two-and you know this “get the banks lending again” meme is going to be part and parcel of whatever bills get passed. So before we go off half-cocked could someone come up with some real believable numbers.

By believable I don’t mean that bank lending went up or down but why did it go up or down. Is it explainable, is it to be expected given a pull back by the consumer or are the big, bad banks trying to take us all down. And one other thing.

There are a lot of people talking out of both sides of their mouths. On the one hand they deplore the alleged decline in bank lending, on the other they want the banks to be more responsible and prudent in their lending decisions. OK, what are the implications for responsibility and prudence. Given that we’re coming off a debt binge of historic proportions that was fueled by irresponsible lending can we not expect that the availability of credit is going to decline somewhat. What is that delta?

This doesn’t seem like it would be that hard to put together. Even some guesstimates based on some hard historical numbers would be useful. I have to believe that they are out there somewhere and given the number of economists in this country you would think that they might be able to provide some useful guidance for a change.

You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Leave a Reply