According to the Federal Reserve's survey of senior bank-lending officers, 28 percent of banks reduced the cost of credit lines early this year to smaller businesses that have annual sales of less than $50 million. Similarly, residential lending began creeping up last year, and even individuals with poor credit are more able to buy a car today than they have been in recent years. But though $713 billion in credit flowed to U.S. households and non-financial businesses last year, double the $336 billion in credit offered in 2011, that is still a fraction of the $2.2 trillion in credit that bolstered U.S. businesses and households in 2007. Experts say many Americans actually are struggling to obtain loans, since banks have tightened standards for many young people and those with past financial hardships.
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