Banks are lending again — finally

After keeping the vault door closed tight for the last several years, banks are finally loaning money again.

PAULSON+MONEY.jpg“With most major banks done reporting fourth-quarter earnings, one trend is clear: For the first time in a while, loan growth is back,” according to a Motley Fool report.

JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, US Bancorp, SunTrust and other banks all report an increase in loan totals.

“A lot of these banks had been paring back on loans for the better part of three years. Not only has that trend turned around, but it’s happened quickly,” Motley Fool says.

Not only is lending on the rise, but the demand for loans is widespread.

Small business loans are up 18 percent, commercial and industrial loans are up 10 percent and even consumer loans, which were “flat for 2011, perked up at the end of the year, jumping 5.6% in December from the same month the year before,” Motley Fool says.

All of this is a good sign that the economy is on the mend. Full recovery will take time, but it’s good to see banks making loans again.

As I wrote in a Sunday column for the News Sentinel, there are other signs that the economy is gaining strength — things like increased auto sales, rising industrial production and improving retail sales.

Motley Fool: Banks Reopen the Spigot