US Regional Banks’ Reports Show Strong Lending Activities for SMEs

The fourth quarter results of regional banks in the US showed a robust domestic economy amid concerns of unsteady global markets, economic slowdowns in China, Europe and a global talks in trade.

Business and credit card loans grew 6% at the ten largest regional banks in America. This surprised industry analysts who are cautious about the effects of the government shutdown, Brexit, and other significant events that should have affected the US economy. But, on the ground, small and medium businesses continue making loans, even surpassing last year’s figures, Kelly King, CEO of BB&T, a bank based in North Carolina, said.

The overall loans of the ten regional banks grew by 3%, dragged a bit lower by a fall in mortgage lending activities, but still lending activities and credit quality stayed strong. Executives of these banks believe that the upward trend would continue in 2019, despite worries of an upcoming US economic recession.

Based on the reports, there was little proof of recession, Geoffrey Elliott, a regional bank analyst for Autonomous research, said. This optimism was shared by Nancy Bush of NAB research, covering small banks in Southeastern states like North and South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. She said that nobody was expecting for a recession. She even cited a Florida bank CEO telling the banking industry in US regions has “the best fundamentals in history.”

However, some analysts aired their scepticism that thing could be better in the coming months despite showing strong results.

Shutdown Makes Funding Difficult

Meanwhile, the government shutdown has resulted in financial problems for small and medium businesses as Small Business Administration (SBA) had been unable to process and grant loans. And even as the shutdown had just ended on January 25 after Pres. Donald Trump opened the federal government until February 15, the 35-day closure of government agencies has left small companies looking for costlier alternative financing in desperation.

The delay in processing loans can impact small businesses and limit their ability to operate, Miguel Maldonado, senior vice president at Randolph-Brooks Federal Credit Union in Texas. Even as SBA has reopened, it would have to play catch-up, according to Arne Monson, president of Holtmeyer & Monson, which services $1 billion in SBA loans.