The Credit Outlook for Small Business

Observers of all stripes say the financial crisis is making the credit climate especially cold and difficult

Over the past year, the economic downturn and the frozen credit markets have harmed small business owners' access to get loans and credit lines. While the severity of the effects on entrepreneurs are still being debated—with some noting that credit has always been difficult to obtain and others finding the tightening typical after an economic expansion, an important question is, what will the climate look like in 2009? BusinessWeek's Stacy Perman spoke to a spectrum of economists, academics, entrepreneurs, and lenders who offered their predictions. Edited excerpts of their conversations follow.

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