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US lending standards fairly stable [ClearOnMoney]
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US lending standards fairly stable

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Commentary

US lending standards fairly stable

8 Nov 2011 by Jim Fickett.

In most areas, US lending standards have loosened slightly, but only slightly, over the last three months. In one area – lending to European banks – standards have tightened significantly.

Yesterday the Federal Reserve released the October 2011 Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey on Bank Lending Practices. The short story is that most lending standards are still being relaxed, but less than before, so that the situation remains fairly stable.

For example, more lenders are loosening than tightening standards on commercial and industrial loans, but not by a large margin:

(Graph courtesy of Federal Reserve; click for larger image.)

Similarly for CRE and consumer loans:

Those loosening standards on residential mortgages were balanced by those tightening:

The one area where there has been a significant tightening is, not surprisingly, for loans to European banks:

Special Questions on Lending to Firms with European Exposures. A set of special questions in the October survey asked respondents about lending to banks headquartered in Europe and their affiliates and subsidiaries (regardless of the location of the affiliates and subsidiaries) and to nonfinancial firms that have operations in the United States and significant exposures to European economies (regardless of the location of their headquarters).

About one-half of the domestic bank respondents, mostly large banks, indicated that they make loans or extend credit lines to European banks or their affiliates or subsidiaries, and about two-thirds of the foreign respondents indicated the same. Among those domestic and foreign respondents, a large share—about two-thirds—reported having tightened standards on loans to European banks over the third quarter. Many domestic banks indicated that the tightening was considerable.