Why would banks lend to riskier businesses over safer ones? That is not the way they operate.

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U.S. Loans Didn’t Flow to Businesses Most at Risk, Study Shows

Loans to small businesses through a federal program haven’t flowed to areas hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new analysis by economists.

About 15% of companies in the regions with the biggest declines in hours worked and most business shutdowns received funds from the first tranche of the Paycheck Protection Program, according to the paper from researchers at the University of Chicago’s Booth School, Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School and the National Bureau of Economic Research.

In congressional districts least affected, firms received double that share.

“We find no evidence that funds flowed to areas that were more adversely affected by the economic effects of the pandemic,” economists João Granja, Christos Makridis, Constantine Yannelis, and Eric Zwick wrote.

If anything, the data suggests that funds flowed to areas less hard hit, according to the report, with a higher share of businesses receiving loans in “areas with better employment outcomes, fewer Covid-19 related infections and deaths, and less social distancing.”

The findings are key to understanding the state of business and the U.S. economy as it dips into a recession, and how and when it could recover.

The government’s small business loans program ran through its $349 billion in funds within two weeks. An additional $320 billion is set to become available Monday after being approved by lawmakers last week.

Read More: Small-Business Relief Program Restarts Monday With $320 Billion



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