A loan is the end product of a lending agreement between a lender and a borrower; in financial markets it's usually in the form of a bond, bill or note. Private and retail loans, like large-scale credit, have become more difficult to obtain since the credit crisis began worsening in 2008, since banks and loan companies can no longer securitize them.
Companies and individuals that can't get loans by issuing bonds and other debt instruments to the capital markets must approach private loan providers like banks and retail finance companies, which lend generally lend at a fixed interest rate and lending period, or amortization, unless pre-determined otherwise. However, since the meltdown in mortgage-backed securities began in 2007, usual sources of such loans have been increasingly reluctant to offer them on favorable terms to either businesses or individuals. Some retail-lending websites allow potential borrowers to calculate the impact of different interest rates and amortization schedules on monthly payments, and vice versa.
As well as private lenders like banks, whose retail lending has been curtailed by the recent freeze in credit markets, borrowers can also apply to U.S. government loan programs, which generally carry a more competitive interest rate. Federal loans are available for business, agriculture and education as well as disaster relief, housing and veterans' needs.