The decline of bank finance for SMEs in APEC

Chris Hall*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Banks are still the single largest supplier of debt funds to SMEs in most developed economies. This paper shows, on the basis of publicly available data for APEC economies, that the real growth of bank lending to SMEs appears to be negative or to have declined in almost all economies over the decade from 1997. Prior to 1997, the real rate of growth of bank finance to SMEs was positive. By contrast, throughout the period 1994-2007, the growth of real lending to large firms has usually been positive and growing. The paper explores these trends in detail and reaches the conclusion that there has been a decline in the availability of bank finance to SMEs in the developed economies in absolute and real terms. The paper also examines some possible reasons for this phenomenon and discusses the implications. It concludes that the problems banks face meeting BIS Basle II requirements, in accounting for intangibles, and thus assessing collateral, is a possible contributor. Finally, the paper suggests ways that the World Bank and Bank of International Settlements (BIS) could make more effective use of available data from banks to better understand the phenomenon.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-54
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2010


  • APEC economies
  • Asian financial crisis
  • Bank
  • Bank International Settlements
  • Bank lending
  • Basle II
  • BIS
  • Debt finance
  • crisis
  • Finance
  • Intangible assets
  • Small business
  • Small medium enterprise
  • SME


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