As the Ebola crisis worsens, the UN says 20 times more money is needed to fight the deadly virus.

Its described the epidemic as the biggest global health threat since Aids.

The Guardian has reported that the International Monetary Fund has changed its rules to allow West African countries to borrow more and run up bigger deficits in an effort to contain the disease.

International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde said it was dropping its normal opposition to extra borrowing for the three worst-hit countries, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.

Meanwhile UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon, said the response to the outbreak which has left almost 4,000 dead had so far been inadequate.

For those who have yet to pledge, I say please do so soon, he said. This is an unforgiving disease.

The Guardian says the appeal came as the presidents of the three countries said they could not cope with the crisis and pleaded with the international community to send more help.

The signs of a healthy economy are abundant.

Sales of existing homes continue to rise, marking a rebound of the real estate market that collapsed during the Great Recession. Unemployment is inching downward, and the stock market has had a robust year. Despite the unrest in the Middle East, there has been no oil shock. This is due largely to the fact that the US is now the number one oil producer in the world and thus is less reliant on crude from the troubled region where anti-American sentiment runs wild.

Many businesses applying for money to grow their companies are able to do so because their financial documents show profitability during the past three years, which loan officers examine before making lending decisions. We have seen proof of this though my companys monthly Biz2Credit Small Business Lending Index, which tracks loan approval rates of banks (both large and small), credit unions, alternative lenders and, most recently, institutional investors.

Big banks ($10 billion+ in assets) are granting more than one-in-five (20 percent) of the small business loan application requests that they receive. Smaller banks are approving more than half of the applications submitted to them. These are levels not seen since before the collapse of Lehman Brothers six years ago this month. Meanwhile, interest rates remain at historic lows.

Entrepreneurs who put off expansion plans might consider acting upon them before the end of 2014. Here are four reasons why.

1. If you Aren't Investing in Your Business, Your Competitors Likely Are

With improved economy, businesses are looking to invest in their own growth. This means that if you stand pat and dont expand your business, you run the risk of having the competition overtake you.

With the improved economy and greater optimism for the most part, small business owners have been increasingly willing to borrow money in order to expand. If you sit on the fence, you run the risk of falling behind.

2. Banks Want to do Deals Before End of the Year

Just like used car salesmen look to make their quotas by the end of the month and will push harder as month-end approaches, bankers look to close deals and make their books look better.

While 2014 has been a good year for small business lending, it has not been as robust as some experts had predicted. It can still be better.

3. Historically Low Interest Rates Wont Last Forever

The economy is cyclical, and the worst of the recession came about five years ago. The rebound has been slow but steady, and the Fed has kept interest rates low in order to help spark investment in small companies, which create the lions share of new, private sector jobs in America. However, if inflation starts to creep up, as a number of economists are predicting, the Fed may have no choice but to raise interest rates next year. Thus, to get the most attractive lending rates, my suggestion is to apply before 2014 expires.

Technology has enabled lenders to make decisions on loan requests quicker than ever before. An improved economy, and the resulting rise in small business credit scores, has mitigated a good deal of the risk involved in loan making. Interest rates are low, and even companies, such as merchant cash advance (MCA) lenders have had to drop their rates, which helps lower the cost of capital for small business borrowers. Yield-hungry institutional players are increasing the competition in the small business loan marketplace, which also contributes to lower interest rates for borrowers.

For all of these reasons, any entrepreneur who has contemplated borrowing money, and expanding his or her business would be making a wise choice by taking the plunge now rather than in 2015.

Wallet Photo via Shutterstock


For the second year in a row, the state will have to borrow money from its treasury to cover basic operating expenses.

The Corbett administration's budget office has taken out a line of credit with the state's Treasury Department, authorizing transfers of as much as $1.5 billion.

Gary Tuma, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Treasury, said the state hasn't resorted to this kind of maneuver so early in the fiscal year before.

According to the state Treasury, this will be the third time the state has the internal borrowing has been done twice before - in December 2013, for up to $1.5 billion, and in February 2009, for up to $500 million.

"As far as we know, those are the only two times," Tuma said. The state borrowed from outside lenders in 2009 and 2010 to cover expenses. Tuma said internal borrowing will save the state money, since it avoids fees, transaction costs, and greater interest payments.

The governor's spokesman Jay Pagni said borrowing from the treasury solves a cash-flow problem at a time in the year when revenues are typically low and spending is high.

"We see this as a short-term financing," said Pagni. "We continually examine the budget and the spending to make sure we're keeping in line with the revenues side of the equation."

But Democratic critics said it's troubling that the state had to resort to borrowing, albeit internal, just three months into the fiscal year. Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) said it shows problems with the past couple of state budgets.

"We don't have any money left in any of the pots that are controlled by the administration," Costa said. "It doesn't bode well for next year."

Tuma said the state has seen a downward trend in cash on hand for several years. State budgets have been built on an expectation of revenue that may be too high, and they've also relied heavily on one-time sources of revenue to patch budget deficits.

"You can't pull those rabbits out of a hat over and over again," said Tuma.

Both the Corbett administration and the Treasury called the internal borrowing itself a shrewd financial maneuver. The commonwealth will have to pay interest on the loan from Treasury, but at a low rate. The loaned money would have otherwise gone into short-term investments, which aren't generating much profit for the commonwealth anyway.

"It is a win-win way of doing it," Tuma said, "as long as Treasury has the money."

Borrow money at short-term interest rates (which are near zero), and use that money to buy something that pays a higher rate.