Finance: Advice from Omar

Whatever the effect of the U.S. banking reforms under discussion last week (see above), they are unlikely to mute the small businessman's eternal lament: that a bank will lend him the money he needs only if he can show that he already has it. Nonetheless, in recent years the small businessman's plight has been significantly eased by a fast-rising breed of financiers who are called factors and operate on the theory that a company's best assets are its customers' debts.

Unlike banks and commercial finance companies, factors are not primarily lenders of money to their clients; instead, they bet that...

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