Credit enables firms to weather temporary disruptions in their business that may impair their cash flow and limit their ability to meet commitments to suppliers and employees. The onset of the COVID recession sparked a massive increase in bank credit, largely driven by firms drawing on pre-committed credit lines. In this post, which is based on a recent Staff Report, we investigate which firms were able to tap into bank credit to help sustain their business over the ensuing downturn.
Every quarter, senior loan officers at selected large banks around the United States are asked by Fed economists how their standards for approving business loans changed compared with the quarter before. Of all the questions in the Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey (SLOOS), responses to that question about standards usually attract the most attention from the financial press and researchers. Relatively ignored by comparison are loan officers’ reports on how they changed interest spreads, collateral requirements, and other terms on loans they are willing to approve. Lenders can clearly expand or contract credit by altering those terms even without changing their standards for approving loans, so we investigate whether the reports on loan terms collected in the SLOOS are also informative.