Five years after the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, growth prospects in Italy and in Europe remain weak, with the credit crunch still representing a major challenge for enterprises. However, in light of a changing banking industry and of the public finance constraints, re-opening the faucet of credit to firms seems difficult in the short term.
The problem of obtaining credit is particularly relevant for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) as well as startups – traditionally, the subjects identified as the engine of economic growth and innovation. Indeed, small firms and new ones suffer more from adverse selection issues and higher interest rates given that they show a weak asset position and a short entrepreneurial track-record (for startups). The challenge of improving credit access is clearly related to the dynamic of the Italian banking system and its traditional weaknesses in developing stock markets for SMEs. However, investing in mutual guarantee institutions (Confidi) and Microfinance could help to foster Italian economic growth. These are two low-cost strategies with high-impact potential.
Article of Marco Magnani, Aspenia 03.02.2014