Friday 20 April 2018

Credit for businesses has not kept up with demand

Gavin McLoughlin and Francesco Canepa

The availability of credit for businesses has not kept up with demand in Ireland, despite lending conditions easing across the Eurozone.

Credit standards for Eurozone companies eased more than expected in the third quarter of 2015 as banks awash with central bank money competed for customers, a European Central Bank (ECB) survey showed yesterday.

However, conditions for Irish companies were unchanged despite an increase in demand for credit, the Central Bank of Ireland said.

The Irish Central Bank said conditions here are expected to remain unchanged in the fourth quarter.

It said lending conditions for house purchases tightened, with the demand unchanged.

For consumer credit and other lending, conditions remained unchanged while demand increased.

Across the Eurozone banks said they were using additional liquidity from the ECB's €60bn a month asset-purchase programme (APP) to grant loans, providing some comfort to the ECB as it looks for evidence that its quantitative easing scheme is working its way into the economy despite anaemic inflation.

A net 4pc of respondents in the ECB's Bank Lending Survey said they were easing credit standards on loans to enterprises, more than they forecast three months earlier, and expected to continue to do so in the last quarter of the year.

"The APP had a net easing impact on credit standards and particularly on credit terms and conditions," the ECB said in its quarterly survey of 141 of the Eurozone's largest banks.

"This easing impact was greatest for loans to enterprises."

Standards eased mainly on loans to small-to-medium-sized enterprises, which form the backbone of the Eurozone economy.

Among the bloc's largest countries, lending standards became easier in Italy, remained unchanged in Germany, Spain and the Netherlands, and tightened in France.

Companies' demand for loans also rose, albeit by less than expected, and a "further considerable increase" was expected in the last quarter of the year.

Standards on consumer credit eased while those on household mortgages tightened slightly, (Additional reporting Reuters)

Irish Independent

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