Small businesses are putting on the brakes. Only 21% of small, fast-growing companies completed a new bank loan in the second quarter of 2000, compared to 25% in the first quarter, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers. The number of companies seeking venture capital, angel financing, and private placements also was down. Meanwhile, a May survey by the National Federation of Independent Business found its members clamping down on hiring and spending. "Things aren't bad right now, but they've probably peaked," says Michael Burt, an economist with West Chester (Pa.)-based consultants RFA/Dismal Sciences Inc.
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