Last week the Obama Administration announced the expansion of a few Small Business Administration (SBA) loan programs, raising the cap on 7(a) loans, increasing the size of "microloans," and offering more aid, via TARP, to community banks. Questions will persist about the efficacy of SBA loan programs for new and small companies, as well as the effect of TARP restrictions on community banks, but two things are immediately clear.
First, business loans have plummeted during this recession (via Econompic):
Worse, they show absolutely no upward trend in recent months:
(Source: John Mauldin.)
Any expansion of capital for businesses, even from the SBA, should theoretically help in some way. Credit is the oxygen line of new firms and they have been courting asphyxiation in this recession.
Second, new and young businesses are the primary source of net job creation in the United States, yet this fact of economic life has for the most part been lost on policymakers (and media) obsessed with restarting the hiring process at large, established companies. Any recognition, therefore, of the importance of new firms and their access to capital can only be a good thing.
These steps aren't a silver bullet, mind you, and officials in Washington and every state capital continue to cast around for anything that will address (or appear to address) the dire employment situation this country faces. Nonetheless, President Obama's announcement is a step in the right direction and it comes on the heels of the creation within the Department of Commerce of a new Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship. New firms are the drivers of job creation, and now Washington is finally turning to them.