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Bankers expect business loans to grow this year


The American Bankers Association predicts that business-loan volume will grow by 11.5 percent this year, a 1.6 percentage point increase from 2011, The Business Journals reported.

“Our consensus forecast is that the economy isn’t growing rapidly enough to push the unemployment rate below 8 percent by year-end,” said George Mokrzan, chief economist for Huntington Bank and chairman of the banking association’s economic advisory committee.

The good news for the economy is that consumer spending is growing, household debt is falling, and the housing market is beginning to recover.

The bad news is that “downside risks have become more pronounced,” Mokrzan said.

Those risks include Europe’s debt crisis, which could weaken the global economy, and the “fiscal cliff” facing the federal government at the end of the year. Without action by Congress, tax rates will go up Jan. 1, and federal spending will be slashed across the board.

“We urge Congress and the administration to generate a consensus solution to avoid a devastating impact on the economy,” Mokrzan said.

Bank economists expect the availability of credit and credit quality will improve over the next six months, he said.

The committee predicts that business lending will grow by only 7.3 percent in 2013. That’s partly due to the scheduled expiration of tax incentives that allow businesses to write off the costs of capital expenditures immediately, instead of depreciating them over time.

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