If you or your business think it's harder to get a loan, you're right. Still.

11/10/2009 1:58 pm EST

Focus: STOCKS

Jim Jubak

Founder and Editor, JubakPicks.com

When will banks start lending again?

Wasn’t in October.

Doesn’t look like November.

Maybe 2010?

That would be a relief for any investor counting on 3% or better growth from the U.S. economy next year. The economy can’t start cooking if banks aren’t lending.

The Federal Reserve’s October survey of bank lending officers is a downer.

 Lending officers said that they continued to tighten lending standards and terms over the last three months. Tighter lending standards mean that fewer borrowers qualify for loans. Tighter terms mean that loans cost more, continue for shorter time periods, require more collateral, etc.

Not a good way to get the economy humming again.

The best thing you can say about the survey results is that while banks are still tightening lending standards, they aren’t tightening them at the record pace of 2008. At the end of 2008 87% of bank lending officers said they had tightened lending standards in the last three months. In the most recent survey the figure was down to just 34%.

It’s not like prospective borrowers are beating down bank’s doors looking for loan money either. Demand for almost all types of loans continued to decline over the last three months. The only exception? Prime real estate mortgages. Apparently if you’re got the high credit score to qualify for the lowest mortgage interest rates, the current low rates are very, very enticing.

Still, on balance, if you’re looking for signs that the economic recovery promised by the growth in GDP in the third quarter of 2009 has turned into a sustainable recovery, you won’t find them in this survey yet.

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