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Avoiding Bankruptcy

bankruptcyThe soft economy, the rise of inflation and the curtailment of credit is having a dramatic effect on small businesses. Annual bankruptcy rates among small businesses is sky rocketing. As the recession continues small business bankruptcy will continue to rise.

Bankers are undertaking a comprehensive review of their small business loan portfolios to enhance risk mitigation programs. They are increasingly driven to engage their small business clients to determine if they can detect any problems that is affecting their clients financial health. Poor operating performance leads to a distressed condition that can ultimately lead to insolvency.

Banks are becoming more proactive. Small business managers need to take action to uncover the factors that are damaging the business.  They must recognize the early warning signs of an emerging distressed condition to remain in the good graces of bankers by honoring the parameters of existing loan covenants.

Banks are taking the lead.  Bankers are initiating an effective engagement process by conducting business reviews  that disseminate information and provide tools to help businesses identify sources of risk in clients business operation. It is incumbent on small business managers to understand how changing market dynamics and operational risk factors are impacting their business and more importantly demonstrate a willingness to take steps to mitigate these factors

The problems posed by curtailment of credit and rising unemployment pose acute threats to small businesses. This is particularly true for businesses that cater to retail consumers. The erosion of consumer buying power due to loss of income and evaporation of customers credit lines means that they won’t be purchasing goods and services offered by small businesses.  Small business sales and profitability evaporates due to exposures to these risk factors.  Small businesses must devise strategies to address these types of risks.

Bankers need to be involved with their small business clients to determine how these risk factors are affecting business profitability and what steps need to be taken to temper their effect.  This a great opportunity for bankers to enhance their engagement level with small business clients. The exercise will preserve relationships, mitigate potential credit defaults and build the banks brand as an effective and involved partner to small businesses.

Sum2 provides a series of risk assessment products that assist companies to chart paths to profitability and growth.  Please visit our website to learn more about the Profit|Optimizer, a unique risk management and opportunity discovery tool that can help you more effectively manage the challenges posed by the recession.

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risk: credit, bankruptcy, banking, SME

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August 20, 2009 Posted by | commerce, credit crisis, recession, SME, unemployment | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

$700 Billion is a lot of Guacamole!

paulsonAn article in today’s  Forbes online entitled Trouble with TARP,  reports a growing concern by the Congressional Oversight Panel (COP) about the effectiveness of the $700 billion program.  The COP reports that the effectiveness of the program is difficult to determine due to lack of transparency of how funds were spent.  The COP report also states that the absence of any reporting guidelines for TARP participants impedes effective oversight.

The 145 page report starts with a retelling of the extreme conditions confronting the banking sector as the credit crisis exploded last autumn.  It also outlines the choices confronting regulators, legislators and industry executives as the crisis deepened.  We were led to believe by Treasury and Federal Reserve officials that the global banking system was in imminent  danger of collapse.  Nothing less then immediate and drastic measures taken by sovereign government officials and industry executives would prevent the catastrophic consequences of global economic carnage.  The report makes it clear that these market conditions were so extreme that regulators were navigating through uncharted waters.  Any remediation measures taken had little historical precedence to guide actions.  Hence Paulson was given carte blanche to handle the crisis with unprecedented latitude and executive facility.

As this blog reported earlier this week, the TARP was originally designed to acquire troubled assets from banking institutions.  TARP funds were earmarked to purchase mortgage backed securities and other derivatives whose distressed valuations severely eroded capital ratios and stressed banks balance sheets.  Hank Paulson later shifted the strategy and decided to inject TARP funds into the banks equity base.  This has done wonders for the shareholders of the banks but troubled assets remain on the banks balance sheet.  As the recession continues,  unemployment, home foreclosures, SME bankruptcies and the looming problem with commercial mortgage backed securities  (CMBS) are placing a new round of added strain on the banking system.

The TALF program is designed to draw private money into partnership with the government to acquire troubled assets from banks.  So far the program has received a tepid response.  I suspect that the principal factors inhibiting the expansion of the TALF program are numerous.  Chief among them is the inability of FASB to decide upon valuation guidelines of Level III Assets.  Banks holding distressed securities may also be reluctant to part with these assets because they have tremendous upside potential as the economy improves.

The COP also questioned the effectiveness of TARP because stress tests were only conducted on 19 banks.  The report states that additional  stress tests may be required because the previous tests failed to account for the length and depth and length of the recession.   Community banks are also of concern.  They face a perfect storm in challenging macroeconomic conditions.  Of particular concern is commercial real estate loans.  Many economists are concerned that high rate of loan defaults in commercial loan portfolios pose great threats to the community banking sector.

Though interest rates remain low due to the actions of the Federal Reserve,  lending by banks still remains weak.  SME’s are capital starved and bankruptcy rates are quickly rising.  SME’s are critical to any economic recovery scenario.  A strong SME sector is also crucial for a vibrant and profitable banking system.  Perhaps a second round of TARP funding may be required to get more credit flowing to SME’s.  If banks start failing again it would be devastating.  The Treasury and the Federal Reserve don’t have many bullets left to fire  because of all the previous expenditures and a waning political will of the people to continue to fund a systemically damaged banking system.

Risk: banks, SME, economy, credit, market

You Tube Video Music: Billie Holiday with Lester Young, Pennies from Heaven

August 13, 2009 Posted by | banking, credit crisis, economics, FASB, Paulson, real estate, recession, regulatory, SME, TALF, TARP, Treasury, Uncategorized, unemployment | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Capital Formation for SMEs

CFO magazine ran an interesting but brief article on SEC plan to encourage and assist capital formation for small mid-size businesses (SMB’s).

In light of all the gyrations in the credit markets and the rush to aid investment and money center banks (see Risk Rap Post 4/10/08, SMB’s TBTF), it is heartening to know that the capital needs of our country’s most important economic sector is not being over looked by the government regulatory bodies.

The access to capital is critical for small businesses. The SEC plan to expand capital access to the segment will help SMBs cope with stringent credit policies, the effects of the economic downturn and the pressure on asset valuations due to the falling real estate and public equity markets.

An interesting side light to this initiative will be how community banks and private equity firms position themselves to take advantage of this SEC initiative. It bears watching and this could be an important program to align the interests of cash rich private equity firms and capital stressed community banks.

We’ll post more on this subject in the future.

Risk: SMB, Regulatory, Private Equity, Community Banks, Market, Credit

May 10, 2008 Posted by | banking, credit crisis, hedge funds, private equity, SME | , , , | Leave a comment