NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Is it even harder now for businesses to get credit from banks? No question.
Does that mean that the American economy will crumble within weeks if the government's $700 billion bailout of Wall Street doesn't pass? No telling.
In the wake of last week's demise of Lehman Brothers and last-minute government bailout of American International Group, the credit markets have all but frozen. What this means for businesses is that they are having a tougher time just getting funding even for their day-to-day operations, never mind securing loans for expansion projects.
While the credit crunch is more than a year old already, two things have changed in recent weeks. First, investors have cut off a major financing source of large corporations by shying away from buying their commercial paper, or ultra short-term debt.
Also, since banks are now holding onto their money even more, they are either not extending lines of credit to companies or are instituting more onerous terms. Businesses of all sizes depend on this funding to buy supplies and inventory, make payroll and extend credit to customers while waiting for payments to come in.
Most businesses don't keep much cash on hand. They rely on banks' lines of credit to cover them until they get paid by their customers.
What does that mean for companies and their employees? Economists are divided, with some predicting dire consequences and others saying most can weather the financial storm for now.
Emphasis added by me.
I've already shown the disastrous effects of bank closings on small businesses.
We've been told time and again, by every politician: small business is the backbone of job creation.
If that backbone can't get credit it requires for daily operations?
It gets broken.