WASHINGTON - U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says the overly tight lending standards of banks may be holding back the country's economy by preventing creditworthy borrowers from buying homes.

Bernanke says some tightening of credit standards was needed after the 2008 financial crisis.

But he says "the pendulum has swung too far the other way."

He says some qualified borrowers are being prevented from getting home loans.

Bernanke's comments Thursday to an audience in Atlanta came on a day when it was reported that the average rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage fell to a record low of 3.34 per cent.

Rates have been low all year but have fallen further since the central bank started buying mortgage bonds in September to encourage more borrowing and spending.