In these credit-constrained times, it seems odd to welcome news of a fall in bank lending. But that’s what’s happening in Japan, where new data on bank loans was released today.

In December, loans at domestic Japanese banks fell for the first time in four years. This is being interpreted as a sign of recovery in the capital markets, as companies find it easier to raise money via bonds instead of relying solely on bank loans and credit facilities. However, as the FT points out, the thawing of credit markets appears to benefit large companies most of all, with smaller firms continuing to bemoan bleak financing conditions.