Saturday, 6 April 2013

You should demand aggregate demand – not more bank lending.

In a speech in the House of Commons on 20th March, Andrew Tyrie claimed that more bank lending was central to the recovery. (There is an excerpt from his speech below).
Unfortunately the evidence from employer surveys does not exactly support Tyrie’s claim, though no doubt he can be forgiven for overestimating the importance of banks given that he has spent several months as chairman of the Banking Standards committee (and done the job brilliantly).
After an hour’s Googling, I unearthed the following three surveys, the first two from the UK and the third from the US. 

1. Kirklees.
This survey (p.23) done by Kirkless council found the percentage of employers citing sundry barriers to growth to be as follows. Apologies re the wonky columns.

General economic climate  23
Lack of customers              20
Competition                        19
Cash flow                           16
Interest rates                      16
Business costs                   13
Strength of pound              12
Market size                        11
Access to bank finance       9
Transport costs                   8
Legislation                           8
Lack of capital investment   7
Energy costs                        7
Shilled labour shortage        5

2. Shropshire survey (p.1)

Equivalent figures for a survey done in Shropshire:
State of the economy            64
Red tape                                 48
Taxes                                      45
Energy costs                          45
transport costs                       43
Cashflow                                 42
Competition                            37
Labour costs                           33
Availability of finance             30
Size of market                         29
Exchange rate                         21
Keeping up with technology  19
Broadband speed.                   18

3. American Sustainable Small Business Council.
This survey done by the above organisation asked employers, “Which of the following is the most important problem right now for your small business?” Answers were as follows.

Weak customer demand        34
Cost of health coverage etc  15
Government regulations       14
taxes                                       12
Competition                           10
Availability of credit                6
Availability of skills                 5

Excerpt from Andrew Tyrie’s speech.
“…but the plain fact remains that small and medium-sized businesses in our constituencies cannot get the funding they need from the banks. Banks lack the confidence to lend to them, and businesses lack the confidence to borrow from banks on the terms offered. The SME sector cannot fully recover until the partly state-owned banks return to more normal lending behaviour….”


P.S. (9th April 2013).   More evidence . . . This survey of small firms around the world (including Europe) found that, “Accessing finance once the business is established seems to present little challenge….”

And this ECB survey of European firms (see chart on p.4) simply confirmed the above, namely that access to finance is not problem No.1. It’s “equal second” problem, and of no more importance than three or four others.


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