NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- We've all seen stories about jobless borrowers struggling to make ends meet, employed homeowners who are underwater on their mortgages, and small-business owners trying to stay afloat without adequate financing -- the economic downturn's impact on Average Joe.
What we've heard less about is Above-Average Joe's difficulties in getting a loan at a reasonable rate, if he can get a loan at all.
The federal government has thrown a whole lot of money at the housing and lending markets, both directly and indirectly. But those funds have been aimed squarely at low-income borrowers or mom-and-pop shops trying to get a foothold in the new economic climate.
On the housing front, there's the $75 billion mortgage-workout program for troubled homeowners, combined with support from the Federal Housing Administration, which guarantees certain types of loans to less-privileged borrowers. Those loans are, in turn, bought by Fannie Mae
But the policies and programs have especially benefited so-called "conforming" borrowers who are eligible for federal programs. Likewise, it has put nonconforming borrowers who have better credit metrics at a disadvantage.
For instance, while the SBA has opened the spigots for struggling small businesses, the overall commercial-loan market has shrunk 18% over the past year, according to Fed data. It's down nearly 25% since its peak in October 2008.