The U.S. credit market may not be surging, but it’s functioning. Mortgages are being closed, car loans made, and consumer and business credit extended. The hysteria of September and October has passed, at least for now.
“Credit is still widely available, as along as consumers have good credit, proof of income, and money for a down payment,” observes Greg McBride, senior financial analyst at Bankrate.com. “Despite all the talk, the average American pays bills on time. The credit market is open to most consumers as long as they have some skin in the game.” McBride acknowledges that there was “a period after the failure of Lehman when the system was at risk.” But the “widespread perception that you can’t get a loan is flat-out false,” he adds. “Getting a loan is not an entitlement, though. Gone are the days when anyone with a pulse could get a loan larger than they could ever repay.”
Reports of renewed, extended, and renegotiated lines of credit are keeping corporate public relation departments busy. To recent examples: department store giant Macy’s reduced the interest coverage ratio on its $2-billion bank credit agreement led by Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase, for example, while technology solutions provider Insight Investments increased and extended its credit facility with City National Bank by one-third.
Gary Cady, president and CEO of San Diego, CA-based Torrey Pines Bank, says his bank has experienced “significant growth in commercial and real estate loans,” even with more conservative lending practices. “The last thing we want to do is be a liberal lender, or make loans that would later get us into trouble,” Cady notes.
“As far as credit availabilty, both of our operating companies are swimming okay at least for now, says Gregory D. Lewicki, president of L&L Special Furnace Co., Inc. “We both have secured lines of credit in the mid-six figures. We have a good relationship with our bank and haven't had any restrictions in our credit availability. We have never missed a payment, and in fact our history has been to pay off our term loans and mortgages early, so the bank probably sees us as a good risk,” Lewicki adds. “Most of the people [we’re] in contact with have very small companies with good banking relationships, and I haven't heard of any trouble that they may be experiencing.”