While lenders contend that current conditions represent a return to “more traditional” underwriting standards from a period of laxity, rather than credit tightening, Federal Reserve Board chairman Ben S. Bernanke emphasized the critical role that lending to small business plays in economic recovery.

“Making credit accessible to sound small businesses is crucial to our economic recovery and so should be front and center among our current policy challenges,” Bernanke said yesterday, noting that small businesses employ nearly half of all Americans.

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