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Pre-Crisis Credit Levels Will Return Slowly

 Fed Governor Elizabeth Duke says full recovery from the recession will take time.  As the nation gradually recovers from the Great Recession, several years are likely to pass before lending returns to pre-crisis levels, according to Federal Reserve Governor Elizabeth Duke.  The return of credit growth is far slower than during any business cycle of the last four decades with the sole exception of the 1990 – 1991 recession.  At that time, consumer credit required three years and commercial real estate nearly nine years to recover, Duke said in a recent speech.

Since December of 2008, the Fed has kept its target interest rate at zero to 0.25 percent in an effort to reduce the cost of borrowing and help the economy recover from the Great Recession.  Even so, loans held by commercial banks slid by approximately five percent in 2009.  “Just as the causes for the decline in lending are multifaceted and complex and took time to evolve, the solutions will likely be equally difficult and will take time to fully work,” Duke said.  She is the sole former commercial banker to serve on the Fed’s Board of Governors.  “We at the Federal Reserve, meanwhile, will continue to do everything we can to encourage a return to a healthy credit environment.”

According to data released by the Federal Reserve, consumer borrowing increased in April for the first time in three months.  The Fed’s Open Market Committee notes that household spending is restrained by “high unemployment, modest income growth, lower housing wealth and tight credit.”  Duke said that “Just looking at the statistics, it is not hard to construct a scenario in which consumer demand for credit remains sluggish for quite a while.  Household net worth dropped about 25 percent during the crisis, about 20 percent of mortgage borrowers lack equity in their homes and consumers are quite burdened by debt payments.”

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