Given the media's coverage of the credit freeze, one would think absolutely no lending is occurring. Not true: Banks are lending at record levels, according to recent Federal Reserve statistics. Commercial and industrial loans, at $1.6 trillion in early November, were up 15 percent from a year earlier and grew at a 25 percent annual rate during the previous three months, according to the Fed. Home equity loans, at $578 billion, were up 21 percent from a year ago and grew at a 48 percent annual rate during the previous three months. The catch? These are mostly credit lines opened before the crisis took full form.
High School Musical IT's Not, but Capital One Bank's debut at West Side High School in Newark, NJ, is worth a mention. Capital One opened a branch in the school that will be run by nine students three days a week under the supervision of Capital One management. The idea is to develop practical financial knowledge and skills through a structured work environment and share what they learn with their peers. The branch is actually the second in the Tri-State area. The first, opened in 2007, is at the Fordham Leadership Academy for Business and Technology in the Bronx. Last year all the Fordham students who worked at the branch went on to attend college.
In other Lending news, U.S. Bank increased its Small Business Administration loan dollar volume total by 3.6 percent for fiscal 2008. U.S. Bank ranks third nationally among SBA lenders, and is the leader in Iowa, Colorado, Kansas City, Kentucky, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, Portland, Sacramento, San Diego, Seattle/Spokane, and St. Louis.