One of the most interesting relationships in the Main Street economy is the one between business owners and their banks. It is at once powerful and essential. Let me tell you a short story about where this dynamic has been in order to explain where it’s going.
Unlike our big business cousins, small firms have limited capital sources. Indeed, the lion’s share of our growth funds come from a bank loan, with almost 60% being made by a community bank (ICBA). Yet, since 2008, more than half of small business CEOs have consistently reported not needing to borrow money (NFIB).
A dozen years ago, a kind of perfect storm began for Main Street businesses: the 2007-09 recession was made “Great” by the Wall Street-induced financial collapse, which was followed by our economic lost decade during the Obama administration. In survival response, small businesses tightened their belts and deleveraged on a scale not seen in generations.
This deleveraging phenomenon resulted in small businesses retaining more earnings which, by definition, produces stronger balance sheets and reduces loan demand. And it produced a silver lining we didn’t know we had or needed – until last year.