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Monday, January 30, 2012

Fed Senior Loan Officer Survey: Lending standards "little changed", "somewhat stronger loan demand"

by Calculated Risk on 1/30/2012 02:00:00 PM

The Federal Reserve released the quarterly January 2011 Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey on Bank Lending Practices today. The survey had "three sets of special questions: the first set asked banks about lending to firms with European exposures; the second set asked banks about changes in their lending policies on commercial real estate (CRE) loans over the past year; and the third set asked banks about their outlook for credit quality in 2012."

Overall, in the January survey, domestic banks reported that their lending standards had changed little and that they had experienced somewhat stronger loan demand, on net, over the past three months.
On the household side, lending standards and demand for loans to purchase residential real estate were reportedly little changed over the fourth quarter on net. Standards on home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) were about unchanged, while demand for such loans weakened on balance. Moderate net fractions of banks reported that they had eased standards on all types of consumer loans over the past three months, and some banks also eased terms on auto loans. Demand for credit card and auto loans reportedly had increased somewhat, while demand for other types of consumer loans was about unchanged.
On Europe:
Large fractions of domestic and foreign respondents again reported having tightened standards on loans to European banks or their affiliates and subsidiaries. There was more widespread tightening of standards than in the previous survey on loans to nonfinancial firms that have operations in the United States and significant exposures to European economies. Demand for credit was reportedly little changed, on net, from European banks (or their affiliates and subsidiaries) and from nonfinancial firms with significant European exposures.

A new special question asked if domestic respondents had experienced an increase in business over the past six months as a result of decreased competition from European banks (or their affiliates and subsidiaries). About half of the respondents who reported competing with European banks noted such an increase in business.
The January survey also included a question regarding changes in terms on CRE loans over the past year (repeated annually since 2001). During the past 12 months, on net, some domestic banks reportedly eased maximum CRE loan sizes and many domestic banks trimmed loan rate spreads. A few large domestic banks, on balance, reported that they had lengthened maximum loan maturities. Other terms for CRE loans were reportedly little changed. The January results were the first in five years to find a net easing in some of the CRE loan terms covered in the survey.
On credit quality in 2012:
The January survey contained a set of special questions that asked banks about their outlook for delinquencies and charge-offs across major loan categories in the current year, assuming that economic activity progresses in line with consensus forecasts. These questions have been asked once each year for the past six years. Overall, between 15 and 60 percent of domestic banks, on net, expected improvements in delinquency and charge-off rates during 2012 in the major loan categories included in the survey.
There are several charts here.

So far the European financial crisis hasn't led to tighter lending standards in the U.S., but standards remain pretty tight.