Alternative Lending Sources are Loaning Money!

Thirty years ago when a small business needed to borrow money an owner simply went to their local community bank and asked for a loan. Often the loan was made on a handshake and the borrower either paid it back in a lump sum or by making term payments. The rule of 78s was used to compute interest on a 360 day basis. The process created a “one size fits all” loan. Today’s world is quite different, as big banks have consolidated and many community banks have disappeared. FICO credit scoring and loan modeling has mostly replaced the relationship based […]

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Payrolls Decrease in 35 U.S. States, Led by New York

Payrolls decreased in 35 U.S. states in December, while the unemployment rate rose in 20, showing the labor market recovery is slow to gather momentum. New York led the nation with 22,800 job cuts last month, followed by Minnesota with 22,400 firings, and Florida with 17,900, figures from the Labor Department showed today in Washington. The report is consistent with figures on Jan. 7 that showed a fewer-than-forecast 103,000 jobs were created nationwide last month even as unemployment fell. Federal Reserve policy makers meeting today and tomorrow are likely to reiterate a pledge to buy $600 billion in government securities […]

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Healthiest and weakest small businesses use technology the most

There’s a striking bifurcation among small businesses regarding how much they value technology and their financial performance. According to a survey conducted in June, small business owners who expected their revenues for 2010 to increase by more than 25 percent over the prior year, as well as those who thought their revenues would decline by more than 25 percent, value technology (software, web sites, social media)  at the same level of intensity. The survey of 1,200 small business owners was conducted by the Guardian Life Insurance Company of America. In other words, owners of healthy companies and of firms on […]

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Lenders Positive About 2011 in Face of Dim Economic Outlook

“I am far more optimistic looking ahead to 2011 than I was to 2010,” says Dan Karas, managing director at Marquette Finance Co. The first six months of 2010 were “incredibly challenging,” he says, as clients worked to improve their balance sheets amid a sluggish economic recovery. “We have not seen a significant uptick in sales across our portfolio,” says James Cannella, president of asset-based lending at Huntington National Bank. “Our clients have cut expenses to return to profitability, but we don’t see any trend to gains in revenue.” While 2010 was what Jon Anselma, managing partner at Paragon Financial […]

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Gas price rise may thwart economic recovery

One oil expert warns fuel could go from $3 to $5 a gallon by 2012.  Gas prices are spiking again, setting off new fears for the economy even as it heads toward recovery.  Gasoline costs $3.13 a gallon in Metro Detroit and Michigan — up 23 cents from last month and 46 cents or 17 percent from the same time a year ago, according to AAA Michigan. It’s the highest price in more than two years — since mid-October 2008.The economic recovery could spark demand for oil worldwide, pushing it past $5 a gallon by 2012, former Shell Oil executive […]

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Credit quality rapidly improving

Here are more encouraging signs that the economic recovery continues to gain strength. Credit quality continues to improve and some indicators stand at two-year highs. According to Standard & Poor’s, the US speculative-grade default rate fell to 3.35 percent in mid-December, down from a peak of 11.4 percent hit in November 2009. In the US, 53 issuers defaulted through November, compared with 185 at the same time in 2009. There are other good signs. The speculative-grade corporate bond spread-most recently around 539 basis points–is just a tad above its 2010 low point of 537 basis points seen on April 26-and […]

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Beware of the Distressed Opportunity: When Cash Finally Runs Dry

CFOs should dissect revenue and cash flows carefully when looking at distressed companies. Over the next six months, we can expect to hear a lot about beleaguered businesses being snapped up by stronger companies looking to buy some good old-fashioned strategic value. The M&A experts predict a rising tide of so-called “distressed opportunities,” sometimes called good businesses with bad balance sheets. CFOs assessing one of these – maybe a storied brand in an adjacent market – should dissect the revenue and cash flow drivers with great care. Some will be overly tempting, and the pressure will mount to make a […]

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CFOs Express More Optimism

Financial executives at U.S. companies expressed more optimism that their businesses will hire employees and see revenue growth in 2011, according to a recent Bank of America Merrill Lynch survey. Of the 801 executives surveyed in the bank’s annual CFO Outlook, 47% said they expect their companies to hire additional employees next year, up from 28% who forecast hiring last year. Only 6% said they expect layoffs, compared with 9% last year. In addition, 64% of CFOs expect revenue growth in 2011, up from 61% last year. “Despite the challenging economic climate, many CFOs have growing confidence that their companies […]

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Is WikiLeaks’ Next Target Bank of America?

Wall Street was atwitter late on Monday when WikiLeaks’ founder, Julian Assange, disclosed in a Forbes interview that the organization’s next target was a major American bank, with a major data reveal to come early next year. Of course, he didn’t specify which bank; Mr. Assange is, among other things, skilled at building up suspense for his organization’s massive data dumps. But in this case, he may have let the cat out of the bag a year ago. In an October 2009 interview with Computerworld, Mr. Assange said that he had obtained copious amounts of data from a Bank of […]

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SBA Takes Closer Look At Federal Contractors

The Small Business Administration is stepping up its efforts to ensure contractors aren’t fudging the truth in order to win government deals. The SBA in fiscal year 2010 visited more than 1,000 small business contractors participating in its popular HUBZone program, up from some 700 visits the year before and fewer than 100 in 2008. The program is aimed at linking small firms in economically distressed areas with federal contracting opportunities. “We need to go out and see that these firms are who they say they are,” said Joseph Jordan, the SBA’s associate administrator for government contracting and business development. […]

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