The health of the $521 billion business equipment financing market is often viewed as a critical indicator of the wider economy, as investment activity in this area usually points to confidence in expansion strategies and financial performance. Accordingly, the Monthly Confidence Index for the Equipment Finance Industry by the Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation serves as an index for such activity. Overall, confidence in the equipment finance market appears to have improved this month, having reached 50.7, up from 47.6 in September. This may indicate some respite from concerns over the state of the global economy. "The equipment finance industry has weathered and will continue to weather the storms of this economy and all its uncertainty," said Valerie Hayes Jester, president of Brandywine Capital Associates. "Access to capital is strong, but demand continues to be weak for small business customers. I do not see that dynamic changing in the coming year to 18 months." Other analysts, such as the National Federation of Independent Business have argued that businesses are not suffering from a lack of credit so much as weak sales. Consumer confidence is, after all, in the doldrums with few signs of improvement on the horizon.