PERHAPS EVERYTHING IN THE GARDEN WASN’T ROSY: We kept hearing from the usual suspects during the last years of the Obama presidency that recovery was strong, the economy was near full employment, and all those people who were complaining of hardship were delusional. Two new data points have just emerged to provide further evidence that that picture was itself a delusion. The first, from the CFPB of all places, is a survey conducted last year that finds that over 40 percent of Americans can’t make ends meet. The second is a new research paper that finds that after the financial crisis, banks – especially the big banks – stopped lending to small firms, which we know is at least partly due to crushing regulation from the likes of the CFPB. The result?
In counties where the largest banks had a high market share, the aggregate flow of small business credit fell, interest rates rose, fewer businesses expanded, unemployment rose, and wages fell from 2006 to 2010. While the flow of credit recovered after 2010 as other lenders slowly filled the void, interest rates remain elevated. Although unemployment returns to normal by 2014, the effect on wages persists in these areas.
If new businesses aren’t forming, opportunity decreases, and wealth cannot grow. This is pretty basic stuff. The Obama “recovery” simply wasn’t one for vast numbers of Americans.