Here is a simple question: what percentage of US banks’ balance sheets is taken up by loans to businesses? The answer may surprise some. It’s just under 11.5%, down from about 16% some 10 years back. Banks began preferring real estate loans (particularly commercial real estate) to corporate credit in the early part of last decade. That didn’t work out so well (see post). Since the financial crisis, banks’ deleveraging sent the number to new lows. The percentage began to rise in 2011 but has stalled again this year.
The result of Basel-based regulation has been the reliance on corporate ratings for capital requirements. Loans of companies without a strong rating or with no rating at all require significantly more capital to hold on balance sheets. And loans to companies with strong ratings pay such a low rate these days, it eats into banks’ profitability. This is especially true for the middle market and lower middle market companies. Outside of basic inventory, equipment, and receivables financing (mostly short-term), banks remain cautious.
It doesn’t mean however that credit to companies is not available. In fact multiple lenders have been stepping into banks’ domain. BDCs, CLOs, credit/mezzanine funds, bond/loan retail funds, etc. have been providing credit to businesses in the US. That transformation to non-bank lenders over the past decade has been quite spectacular – especially in the middle market.
|Source: Aranca (click to enlarge)|
When you hear all the pundits talk about “shadow banking”, they usually miss the fact that most corporate loans now come from outside the banking system. So the next time your medium-sized business needs some long-term financing, you may get a better answer from your not-so-local BDC than your local bank – particularly while credit markets remain hot.
From our sponsor:
Wall Street Examiner Disclosure: Lee Adler, The Wall Street Examiner reposts third party content with the permission of the publisher. The opinions expressed in these reposts are not those of the Wall Street Examiner or Lee Adler, unless authored by me, under my byline. I curate posts here on the basis of whether they represent an interesting and logical point of view, that may or may not agree with my own views. Some of the content includes the original publisher's promotional messages. No endorsement of such content is either expressed or implied by posting the content. All items published here are matters of information and opinion, and are neither intended as, nor should you construe it as, individual investment advice. Do your own due diligence when considering the offerings of information providers, or considering any investment.