The borrowing for U.S. small businesses increased near the end of 2013, which has analysts optimistic about the economic outlook for 2014.
This increase, reported by the Thomson Reuters/PayNet Small Business Lending Index, measures the volume of finance lent to small companies. At 120.4 in October and 111.4 in November, this level is the highest since August 2007—right before the financial crisis set in. Additionally, November, which only had 20 working days, saw the highest per-day borrowing rate out of the entire year.
This kind of increase points to an optimistic U.S. economy. Normally, a high level of small business borrowing is correlated with overall economic growth because small companies produce more goods and increase assets, ultimately resulting in more money infused into the economy as well as the creation of more jobs.
"It's another sign of continued expansion," PayNet founder Bill Phelan said, according to Reuters. Small businesses "are seeing more demand for goods and services, and that's all good for GDP."
With lighter financial burdens, small businesses have been able to not only borrow more, but also pay back those loans in a timely manner.
The percent of small business loans unpaid at 31 days past due and 180 days past due was down to 1.43 percent, which according to Reuters, is a new record low. For a little perspective, the number of delinquent loans reached a high of 4.73 percent in August 2009 and has steadily declined since then.
Looking to the New Year
Because PayNet's lending index has typically correlated in the past to more overall economic growth for the next one to two quarters, analysts believe the US economy should continue to improve in 2014. Some factors in improving the outlook will be actual financial infusion—such as more business production—but the attitude of the American consumer will also play a key role.