2/11/2011 6:03:58 AM By
On the heels of my posting earlier this week describing global trends in small business lending
, the U.S. has new national and state-level data available today
from the Small Business Administration. While I would like to say that this data is about "small businesses" I would reminder readers that really these are data about "small loans" (under $1,000,000) and really small loans (under $100,000). While this might be a proxy for small business lending, I don't think anyone can legitimately argue that it's a full representation of the reality. That said, it's the best we have in the U.S. currently. Arg.
The SBA is reporting a smaller decrease in all categories measured than was seen in 2008-9. But a decrease is still a decrease; it seems the mid-tier loans ($100,000-$1,000,000) continued to be the hardest hit. Specifically the study found "the smallest business loans under $100,000 began to stabilize in 2009-2010—the total was down by 1 percent...[overall] small business lending dropped by 6.2 percent, less than the 8.9 percent drop experienced in large firm lending over the 2009-2010 period."
One new feature of the SBA's website this year seems to be better automation of the data tables and information underlying the state-level data. I think this is something that many scholars studying state-level effects will have some interest in. The data still suffers greatly from the bias of not knowing where the businesses were located that received the loans. For example, Bank of America only shows up in the North Carolina data (from those spreadsheets I examined) since it's headquarters is there. Still, I like the increasing accessibility of this data from the SBA.
2/9/2011 8:21:53 AM By
For those of you who are not experts in data dissemination but want a crash course, start with tomorrow's event in Washington, DC. "Responsible Data Sharing in the 21st Century"
will be hosted by University of Chicago NORC and the National Institute for Standards and Technology. Sadly, I can't attend in person, but am happy to report my colleague Alicia Robb will be presenting. She'll be discussing our private sector experience in disseminating the Kauffman Firm Survey
but most of the speakers are from government and will be discussing their various experiences.
I really hope people are coming to learn because the truth is that as a community of data stewards we are still making many more failures in disseminating our data than successes. Here I don't mean failure in the sense of a data breach but rather the science behind what scholars and communities need in addition to data access is still in its infancy. With the Kauffman Firm Survey we've tried to be a real-time laboratory on these activities, testing new modes of dissemination, programs to support outreach, as well as coaching and training. So we sincerely hope others can learn from our successes and failures in data dissemination and we look forward to hearing about similar experiences.
2/8/2011 6:04:56 AM By
I have spent a good deal of time over the last four years working on surveys asking individual companies about how their business activities are financed. It’s been amazing in that process to see how differently the topic must be discussed in Europe and the United States. Specifically, topics like credit card financing, which are a mainstay of U.S. surveys, don’t event make an extended pick-list of financing types used by most European small businesses. I bring this up to illustrate that international comparisons of financing mechanisms for small business are a tricky thing. And yet, we all yearn for more comparable data (or any data at all!). Today I wanted to describe a couple of fairly recent surveys focused on small business financing data internationally.
Asking the Firm about Financing
Completed every six months, the European Central Bank Access to Finance of SMEs
is a large-scale survey of establishments in the EU zone looking at changes in conditions but not gathering nominal values of loans. It has a nice questionnaire
that keeps things simple although the overall effort is a bit limited in that it's bypassing official statistical systems and doesn't have the ability, as I understand it, to link reported credit conditions to firm outcomes in later periods. It's most recent report summarized that “between March and September 2010 the proportion of SMEs reporting a worsening in access to bank loans, at 24%, almost halved compared to the previous survey, when it stood at 42%. At the same time, 12% of SMEs reported an improvement in access to bank loans, compared with 10% in the previous round.” This seems to show that the debt financing options for European SMEs are still getting worse but not as quickly. This is a good example of a survey gathering perceptions from businesses. The recently reviewed NFIB survey
also comes to mind here.
Asking the Regulator (or Bank) about Financing
The other route that can be followed in gathering data is to go to the providers of capital. In most cases, in small business financing this means looking to providers of debt capital. A new paper by the World Bank titled “Small and Medium Enterprises: A Cross-Country Analysis with a New Data Set
” describes an aggregation of SME financing data of this types from multiple countries around the world. This arises from some of the efforts of the World Bank and G-20 to aggregate data from central banks and other administering agencies about the size and quantity of loans to small businesses in their country. Asking regulators about loans is quite different than the above described establishment surveys. The advantage of the second approach is that it’s much cheaper but as the authors outline, there are huge definitional differences across countries in how SMEs are defined.
From table 2 of “Small and Medium Enterprises: A Cross-Country Analysis with a New Data Set”
The above shows the U.S. definition which centers on loan size, not employees or revenues of the business; I find this to be highly unsatisfactory. So while I applaud this G-20/World Bank effort, I personal still don’t think it’s a full substitute for a quality establishment survey. That said, outlining some of these differences in definitions is the first step in pushing towards further agreement on appropriate definition and comparability. The authors have tried to make global estimates on the size of small business lending, finding that $10 trillion flows annually to small business loans but that this is disproportionately higher in developed economies. Additionally, they believe the differences in definitions are not driving the difference between developed and developing economy levels of small business financing.
While there is much to applaud in the ECB survey, they still have work to do in regard to their sample. Specifically, it does not appear to me that their sample is adequately covering new and young firms. While they have about 2 percent of firms responding that they are under 2 years of age, that is dwarfed by those firms age 2-4 years (8 percent of their sample). This would appear low by all estimates I can think of coming out of the OECD and other international sources. And indeed, in this turbulent time we have shown the importance of tracking new business finance separately as these are the firms most likely first effected by the downturn and any credit tightening. Take a look at Spain’s statistics on new business registrations, as an example, which have halved in the last year. The discussions about small business financings too often are portrayed as the same as new business financing. They are not and more effort needs to be made to have samples which allow for representative studies of credit conditions faced by new businesses.
A Compliment and A Call
But it’s great to be squabbling on the details of the ECB effort while the U.S. remains devoid of meaningful ongoing federal collections at the establishment level. Our own Kauffman Firm Survey is the only longitudinal effort collecting annual debt and equity injection information on U.S. businesses but it’s only one cohort. How we are not demanding more on business financing is baffling to me. Communities everywhere in the U.S. want to know what is happening with their small business credit conditions.
11/19/2010 4:00:00 AM By
The New York Times
had an interesting piece this week on huge number of small business owners entering Congress
. They attributed all the data to "The Agenda" but I cannot for the life of me figure out who this group is. I thought I'd throw this up in case others are aware of good sources for data on the backgrounds of Congressional members, particularly related to entrepreneurship and innovation?
11/18/2010 6:21:52 AM By
The OECD has a new statistical brief
out on entrepreneurship that focuses heavily on timely indicators of entrepreneurial activity. While these new indicators are not fully comparable across countries, the OECD focuses on the within country changes that have occurred recently.
Number of New Enterprises, 2006=100
The report has many other things from the OECD's core indicators which now have several years of time series data, but most of the interest will fall on the timely data. This downturn seems to have affected negatively most employer business entries in different countries. Because of the tightening of credit markets associated with the recent recessions, this isn't entirely surprising but is significant because this and the World Bank's recent data
are the most concrete measures of new, larger business entries across countries. Neither report looks at self-employment. I know that Legatum also has a new Prosperity Index
out but I haven't been able to review it yet.
I don't think the OECD has it's new country-level data posted on its website yet, but academics interested in that data should watch as it should be updated at any time. A more detailed publication with the data will follow in the spring 2011.
11/15/2010 2:00:00 AM By
Research using intellectual property administrative records continues to advance at a brisk pace with some really exciting new developments. I'll give a couple of updates from very different strands of activity that I am aware of. I doubt I am doing anyone full justice in my summaries, but hopefully you will explore further!
Most interestingly from my perspective are some of the work happening at the OECD and other venues which is trying to bring trademark and copyright filings into the discussion. Patent data have been the dominant source for researchers for some time, largely due to its easy availability and efforts by folks like NBER to make new versions of the data easily available. While still very early, this work has potential to open up new means of using these other types of IP to understand innovations which might not be as technical but more process oriented. I saw some of this work presented last week at the OECD as an update to this working paper
but there appears to be a lot of other opportunities to look into this topic
. Now, since trademarks are more common they appear to be even more messy than patents when it comes to attempting to do matches, etc. Thus, I am still cautious in my reading of some of these findings because the match rates are not strong and some of the data which the OECD is matching too is least representative or accurate for small and new businesses. We want more types of businesses in our samples than just those that patent but things get complicated quickly once doing so. It will take some time for scholars to figure out good means of making sense of some of this chaos.
I am booked with other activities during Global Entrepreneurship Week, but if I weren't I'd love to attend "Patent Statistics for Decision Makers 2010
." Interesting agenda which seems to offer a broad overview of some leading areas of patent-based research from the U.S., European Union, and others. The last year has seen the proliferation of economists within patent offices. I think this will be a good thing. Indeed, the U.S. PTO snagged one of our best academics - Stuart Graham (read background docs on their emerging research strategy
) - to be their first Chief Economist and I learned last week the United Kingdom has also hired someone. So, seems to be the potential for a lot of change in this area if only because new ideas and resources are flowing in.
Lastly, I want to point to some work from Grid Thoma
(and others I am not entirely positive). It's a new dataset on patenting firms in USPTO and EPO/PCT that has been disclosed for research purposes. This dataset covers the whole population of patent documents and allows a user to query directly the patenters in the business directories and link it with other complementary information such as firms demographics, financial statement, ownership information, etc. The dataset is accompanied by an extensive paper describing originating dataset, methodology, and software code used to create it. More information on data and paper can be found at www.epip.eu/datacentre.php
. With so many versions of patent data proliferating out there, I would love feedback from users of some of these data as to their strengths and weaknesses.
10/13/2010 5:57:36 AM By
Researchers who follow data on internet and phone connectivity know how spotty comparable international data is. For households, this is a fact, and when we move into the connectivity of businesses across countries, the data just doesn't exist. So, I was curious today when a new publication from European Commission came out covering "E-communications
" across the EU at the end of 2009. While I was disappointed to not see anything in their survey about how the households were using electronic communications to facilitate business (think of all the reports of people running small Internet businesses on the side), I was struck by one measure I found in the report - "calling over the Internet."
So when measuring if anyone in the household used their computer to make a phone call, the authors found surprisingly little change since 2008 but a lot of heterogeneity across countries. Lithuania and Latvia came in at the top, with more than 60 percent of households reporting these activities while Portugal and Spain came in at the bottom around 10 percent.
As someone who has relied on a digital phone to work for the last six years and because I have had many interactions with companies attempting to globalize which were relying on boundary-less communications like Skype, I think there is something in these statistics worth more of a look. At the least, these statistics seem to point to another indicator of the extent to which a particular country is internationalized.
10/13/2010 5:25:42 AM By
The World Bank Group has released two additional years of data as a part of its Entrepreneurship Database
. For most countries, data is now current through 2009, thus reporting some of the first international entrepreneurship statistics since the economic crisis began. With 112 countries, many with several years time-series, the World Bank Entrepreneurship Database is worth a look for many academics looking for other measures to test entrepreneurship patterns within countries. It’s a parallel effort to some of the popular Doing Business
research and reports different demographics about limited liability corporations within the countries covered.
I expect this chart covering new business entry density in different development classes of countries will get the most press coverage with the current release.
It shows a not so positive picture for new business entry in the developed economies and a relatively bright picture in many developing economies. While the developed economies continue to see higher entry rates, they also saw trend lines which were significantly more effected by the financial crisis.
10/7/2010 5:47:55 AM By
9/9/2010 9:00:00 AM By
At the 2010 Academy of Management workshop, we helped to organized a packed workshop for people looking to use more longitudinal data in their research. The following are the PPTs that were presented at that workshop. In particular, I really enjoyed Jon Eckardt's discussion of using internet data for entrepreneurship research.