The Federal Reserve sponsored a two-day conference this week on small- business lending. About half the studies presented focused on whether lenders discriminate against minority businesses. Copies of the studies will be available this summer on the Fed's Web site,

Discrimination may be responsible for a 25% higher loan rejection rate for black-owned small businesses than for white-owned companies, according to Phillip B. Levine of Wellesley College, David G. Blanchfield of Dartmouth College, and David J. Zimmerman of Williams College.

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