Monthly Archives: June 2009

SBA ARC program DOA. Is Obama for real or are the banks still running the show?

The Small Business Administration announced the ARC program for distressed small businesses. This emergency loan, up to $35,000, is intended for businesses that can’t pay their bills.

Guess what? Since the SBA only guarantees loans and the banks still have to fund them, we have yet to see a single ARC loan made. The recovery efforts, at least as far as main street is concerned, feels like a photo op.

If you’ve had success getting one of these loans, please contact I’d love to know your secret.

A Tale of Two Depressions

The parallels between the Great Depression of the 1930s and our current Great Recession have been widely remarked upon. Paul Krugman has compared the fall in US industrial production from its mid-1929 and late-2007 peaks, showing that it has been milder this time. On this basis he refers to the current situation, with characteristic black humour, as only “half a Great Depression.” The “Four Bad Bears” graph comparing the Dow in 1929-30 and S&P 500 in 2008-9 has similarly had wide circulation (Short 2009). It shows the US stock market since late 2007 falling just about as fast as in 1929-30.

Comparing the Great Depression to now for the world, not just the US

This and most other commentary contrasting the two episodes compares America then and now. This, however, is a misleading picture. The Great Depression was a global phenomenon. Even if it originated, in some sense, in the US, it was transmitted internationally by trade flows, capital flows and commodity prices. That said, different countries were affected differently. The US is not representative of their experiences.

Our Great Recession is every bit as global, earlier hopes for decoupling in Asia and Europe notwithstanding. Increasingly there is awareness that events have taken an even uglier turn outside the US, with even larger falls in manufacturing production, exports and equity prices.

In fact, when we look globally, as in Figure 1, the decline in industrial production in the last nine months has been at least as severe as in the nine months following the 1929 peak. (All graphs in this column track behaviour after the peaks in world industrial production, which occurred in June 1929 and April 2008.) Here, then, is a first illustration of how the global picture provides a very different and, indeed, more disturbing perspective than the US case considered by Krugman, which as noted earlier shows a smaller decline in manufacturing production now than then. Read More

Advocacy Study Ranks Banks on Small Firm Lending, Hints at Current Financial Trends

The May-June 2009 edition of The Small Business Advocate features the latest Small and Micro Business Lending Study, plus a look at Advocacy’s role in the national strategy to extend broadband access to all Americans. This issue also reports on important regulatory news for small employers.
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