Analysis: U.S. bankers voice new optimism as businesses line up for loans
By Michael Erman
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Loans to businesses have risen to a record high and bank executives say they are increasingly optimistic about the U.S. economy.
Increasing demand for bank loans often is a prelude to higher economic growth. With the U.S. government budget crisis fixed for now and Europe showing signs of economic recovery, companies feel more comfortable borrowing to invest in machinery, factories, and buildings.
JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N: Quote) Chief Executive Jamie Dimon, who has long described himself as "cautiously optimistic" about the economy, recently dropped the modifier "cautiously," he said on a conference call with investors last week.
"We're using the word optimistic because we are actually optimistic," he added.
"The sun and moon and stars are lined up for a very successful year" in the U.S., he said the next day at a conference in San Francisco.
"I don't see any weak spots in America," Dimon said, noting that corporations, small business, the stock market and the U.S. housing market are all showing signs of improving.
Outstanding loans to companies reached an all-time high of $1.61 trillion at the end of last year, topping a record set in late 2008, according to Federal Reserve data released on Friday.
Bankers say that anecdotally, business customers are more hopeful than they had been. Continued...