Everyone knows the old joke about how easy getting into the lending business is: “Lending money out is very simple — pretty much anyone can do it. It’s getting people to pay the money back that’s the hard part.”

While that’s a groan-inducer in good times, it’s a wince-maker in today’s economic downturn. Lots of firms that jumped into the underwriting game over the past decade of economic growth are finding out these days that collecting the money isn’t a joke at all.

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