Sat. Mar 2nd, 2024

The impact of interest rate fluctuations on borrowing decisions for businesses

As the new year begins, one of the key economic questions on everyone’s mind is whether the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates. This uncertainty poses a conundrum for business owners who are considering borrowing money. Should they wait for the Fed to make a move and potentially pay less interest, or should they borrow now? This article explores the impact of interest rates on borrowing decisions, with a focus on the housing construction sector and small businesses.

Housing Construction Feels the Pressure

Housing construction, a sector heavily reliant on borrowed money, is particularly sensitive to high interest rates. With construction loans typically being floating-rate debt, rising interest rates put additional pressure on project budgets. John Kirk, a multifamily developer, explains that high interest payments have rendered many construction projects economically unviable. Some developers are even unable to secure loans, leading to paused or shelved projects. However, with interest rates believed to have reached their peak, Kirk decided to start his own development company, anticipating a rising market in the next 12 to 24 months.

Cash Flow Considerations for Small Businesses

For small businesses, the decision to borrow now or wait for rates to fall often hinges on cash flow. Barbara Richardson, owner of SpringWell Financial Solutions, advises her clients to hold off on borrowing if they are generating substantial cash flow. In such cases, she suggests conserving cash and waiting for more favorable interest rates. However, Richardson acknowledges that some businesses may choose to borrow immediately. A loan can serve as a safety net during periods of reduced cash flow or enable businesses to seize time-sensitive opportunities.

Seizing Opportunities in the Defense Sector

Mavericks Manufacturing Partners, a company in California that serves the aerospace and defense industries, faces a unique borrowing situation. Owner Chris Blench explains that the defense sector always has a significant budget, creating ample opportunity for his business. To meet customer demand, Blench needs to invest in new equipment, despite the currently high interest rates. Waiting for rates to fall could result in missed sales and the inability to offer crucial services. Blench believes that passing on the cost of higher interest rates to customers is a viable option, given the demand for his services.

Borrow or Wait

The decision for businesses to borrow now or wait for interest rates to fall is a complex one that depends on various factors. While the housing construction sector feels the pressure of high interest rates, some developers are optimistic about the future and are starting their own ventures. Small businesses weigh the benefits of conserving cash versus seizing opportunities. In sectors with high demand, such as the defense industry, businesses may choose to borrow now to meet customer needs and pass on the cost to clients. Ultimately, businesses must carefully evaluate their unique circumstances and make borrowing decisions that align with their long-term goals.

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