Raw Data: Commercial Lending Is As High As It’s Ever Been

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


I know that nobody cares about this, but my post this morning about commercial lending got me curious. The proper way to judge whether banks are making loans is to look at total bank lending as a percent of GDP. So I did. And as long as I did the work, I might as well pretty it up and share it with you. Here it is for the past 30 years:

As you can see, bank lending generally declines during recessions and then goes back up. Right now, it stands at a little over 11 percent of GDP, which is as high as it’s ever been. To suggest, as President Trump did, that businesses are having a hard time getting loans because of Dodd-Frank is ridiculous.

That said, a brief warning. Corporations raise money in multiple ways. Bank lending is part of it. But there are also stock issues, bond sales, private equity, non-bank loans, and so forth. If you put all of this together, it would give you an idea of the overall ease or difficulty of raising money right now, and I have no idea what it would show if someone went through this exercise. In other words: commercial bank lending is pretty robust right now, but don’t draw any larger conclusions from this unless you have the data to back it up.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate