Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke urged banks to boost lending to small businesses, calling them central to increasing hiring. Bernanke noted that even some creditworthy businesses are having a hard time finding lending and cited a survey by the National Federation of Independent Business that shows the percentage of firms reporting tighter credit conditions remains "extremely elevated." "The challenge ahead for lenders will be to determine how to assess the credit quality of businesses in an uncertain and difficult economic environment," Bernanke said.

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