SMB Borrowing Dips In March

Leveraged loans

More troubling news on the economic front. According to the Thomson Reuters/PayNet Small Business Lending Index, U.S. SMB borrowing dropped in March, ominously marking the index’s sixth decline in the last nine months.

According to reports, the PayNet index generally corresponds to U.S. GDP figures a quarter or two ahead of time. Small business borrowing is used as a growth indicator due to the large amount of hiring such firms do in the U.S.

“There’s no bullish sentiment,” said Bill Phelan, president of PayNet.

Phelan further noted that 11 of the 18 sectors that PayNet tracks are on a downward trend. Small business owners, he said, are simply not willing to spend big in hopes of growth.

“If we go out on the risk-taking limb, the branch might get sawed off,” Phelan said of the current operating psychology among merchants. “Now is not the time to play hero.”

In other less-than-inspiring data out of the report, loans more than 30 days past due were up (slightly) to 1.48 percent, from 1.47 percent in February.