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Small business needs more loans

Hand holding paper currency.

Steve Chiotakis: In this country today, the Senate Banking Committee will look at a bill that would increase how much money credit unions can loan to businesses. Credit unions say a lift in their lending cap could help create badly needed jobs.

From Washington, here's Marketplace's Nancy Marshall Genzer.


Nancy Marshall Genzer: Right now, credit unions' business loans are capped at about 12 percent of their assets. They want Congress to more than double the amount of money they can lend.

John Magill is the chief lobbyist for the Credit Union National Association, a trade group. He says if the cap were lifted, $13 billion would be available immediately. Money small businesses could use to create tens of thousands of jobs.

John Magill: With high unemployment, the need for small business lending, we think the time is absolutely right for this.

But small business loans can be very risky. Think about how many restaurants you've seen fail.

Bill Black: Don't let your friends start a restaurant. It's a really good way to go bankrupt.

That's Bill Black, a former banking regulator now teaching economics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. He says credit unions don't have the experience to deal with risky small business loans. But lobbyist Magill says credit unions can only lend to their members, and they know their communities.

Congress is weighing the arguments, with bills pending in both houses.

In Washington, I'm Nancy Marshall Genzer for Marketplace.

About the author

Nancy Marshall-Genzer is a senior reporter for Marketplace based in Washington, D.C. covering daily news.

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