U.S. banks have finally started extending loans to consumers for the first time since the credit crisis began in 2008.

In the third quarter of 2010, banks issued 36 million consumer loans, up 3.7% from a year earlier, according to Equifax and Moody's Analytics. That was the first year-over-year gain since the end of 2007. Further, consumer loan originations are projected to increase 5.9% in 2011.

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