Bullard Says Small Banks Have Key Role in Business Lending

Oct. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard said community banks have a critical role in providing credit to small businesses.

“Those community banks that survived and thrived through the crisis and its aftermath retain an important role in the U.S. economy,” Bullard said in opening remarks at a conference in St. Louis. “Although community banks account for only 20 percent of all loans made by commercial banks, they account for 52 percent of the small business and farm loans.”

Bullard made a reference to this week’s U.S. government partial shutdown in introducing Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke at the St. Louis Fed’s conference on “Community Banking in the 21st Century,” a research and policy conference for bankers, regulators and academics.

“Washington has shut down and is no longer playing baseball, the chairman’s favorite sport,” Bullard said. “St. Louis has not shut down and continues to play baseball; so, consider St. Louis your home for baseball, Mr. Chairman.”

Bullard didn’t comment on the U.S. economy or monetary policy in his remarks.

To contact the reporters on this story: Steve Matthews in Atlanta at smatthews@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Wellisz at cwellisz@bloomberg.net