One more sign that the economy is stabilizing: nearly one-third of asset-based lenders, which includes banks and other commercial lenders, reported an increase in new credit commitments during the first quarter of 2010. That's according to the Quarterly Asset-Based Lending Index compiled by the Commercial Finance Association (CFA). What's more, respondents also reported a slight decrease in write-offs and non-accruing loans, along with a small jump in credit line utilization, says Andrej Suskavcevic, chief executive officer with the CFA. "We're seeing across the board greater volume and better quality deals," Suskavcevic says. As their name suggests, asset-based loans are loans that are backed by the borrower's assets, such as accounts receivable, inventory or equipment.
That's not to say that asset-based loan market is immune to forces in the larger economy. At the end of 2009, asset-based loans outstanding totaled $480 billion, a drop of almost 20 percent from 2008's high of $590 billion, and the lowest level since 2005, also according to the CFA.