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Banks Are Lending Even Less. Nice Work, Ben!

But hey, look over there! Ben Bernanke's the Man of the Year! WASHINGTON — The value of loans held by the biggest beneficiaries of the government

But hey, look over there! Ben Bernanke's the Man of the Year!

WASHINGTON — The value of loans held by the biggest beneficiaries of the government's bank bailout fell for the ninth consecutive month in October, the Treasury Department reported Tuesday, a day after President Barack Obama criticized top bankers for not doing enough to boost lending.

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The department's monthly report, which monitors the top 22 recipients of support from the government's $700 billion rescue fund, showed that their average loan balances dropped in October by $36.8 billion, or 0.9 percent. That followed a decline of 1.1 percent, or $45.9 billion, in September.

Obama on Monday urged the nation's big banks to make "extraordinary" efforts to increase lending to help consumers and businesses who have been staggered by the worst recession since the 1930s.

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