Despite billions in federal stimulus money, and stellar recent earnings reports, most banks will tighten up their lending over the next year, according to a survey out this week.

The report, produced by John Paglia, an associate professor at Pepperdine Unviersity's Graziado School of Business and Management, notes that 46 percent of lenders - including community sized and large banks - will restrict their lending over the next 12 months.

"In the short term, it's favorable for banks, who can find an ability to avoid deteriorating asset values," Paglia said. "But in the longer term, it's not favorable because banks are in the business of lending in order to make money."

The survey - which was conducted from March to April - included responses from 78 banks, large and small, from around the country, Paglia said.

Bust despite news that some banks reported stellar quarterly earnings reports, and that the now year-and-a-half-long recession could end by the end of the year, there's not much evidence that bankers will loosen up.

Credit got tight as cash-strapped institutions hoarded capital in the midst of the housing crash and Wall Street bust last year.

Since then, many banks received federal bailout money on the hope that it would thaw the chilled credit markets.

Some reports since then have been more optimistic. A Fed survey of bank loan officers in April showed some that just 40 percent of banks had tightened their lending standards for commercial and industrial loans over the previous three months. That was down from the 65 percent that said they had done so in the Fed's January survey.

Obama administration officials on Friday touted the federal stimulus program, which they say is doing its job.

The mixed messages were not a big surprise for Babette Heimbuch, chairwoman and CEO of First Federal Bank of California.

One one hand, political officials want to step recession, so there's a benefit and touting the good news. On the other hand, regulators are telling banks to be prudent with their money, she said.

But that prudence is making it tough for business and individuals seeking everything from financing to car loans.

"It's quite unfortunate for everybody because the need is so great, especially if you are managing a small business," said Sheree Curry, executive director of the San Gabriel Valley Black Chamber of Commerce.

The survey also found that 39 percent of lenders plan to keep their lending at current levels and 15 percent said it will become less restrictive.

ryan.carter@sgvn.com