Survey Suggests Growing Confidence among US SMEs

Optimism about the US economy’s prospects built slowly but steadily in the second half of 2012 among small and mid-sized enterprises (SMEs), some of which are likely to seek more credit in 2013 as they become increasingly confident in business fundamentals, reports Greenwich Associates.

According to the financial services consultant’s latest
‘Market Pulse’
, owners and executives of 40% of US small businesses and 37% of mid-sized companies reported that the current environment has actually had a positive impact on their business. The study covered 262 small businesses, defined as those generating revenues of US$1m to US$10m, and 262 middle market companies with sales of between US$10m and US$500m.

Greenwich said that an important contributor to that impact is the seemingly positive behavior of US banks towards many small businesses. Forty-six percent of small businesses that borrowed in the three-month period ended late October/early November reported that credit was easier or much easier to obtain, against about 24% approximately a year ago.

Only 17% of small and mid-sized businesses said that they had accessed credit on the back of federally sponsored programmes, an indication that many businesses had gotten loans on the strength of their performance in a challenging environment.

The Greenwich
‘Optimism Index’
moved into positive territory in H212, indicating that, on net, US SMEs believe that economic conditions are improving. The index started 2012 in positive territory but quickly turned negative amid the European sovereign debt crisis and mixed signals about the direction of the US economy. The uptick to a positive reading in H2 was surprising, given the uncertainty around the US fiscal cliff and a variety of upcoming banking regulatory actions.

“Many firms have managed to survive and even flourish in a volatile and slow-to-recover business environment. This partially explains the optimism that we are now seeing in many businesses,” said Greenwich consultant David Heiner.

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