White House to banks: Start lending money

WASHINGTON (AP) - The White House has a message for U.S. financial institutions receiving billions in federal help: quit hoarding the money and start making more loans.

Press Secretary Dana Perino says there's been some evidence of easier lending practices, but there needs to be more in order to calm stock markets. She's says that would also help small businesses -- not just to expand but to maintain operations through making payroll or financing inventories.

Treasury official Anthony Ryan made the same point. He told a gathering of financial executives in New York that the banks and financial institutions that are reinforced by taxpayer funds "must meet their responsibility" to support the American people and the U.S. economy.

The White House notes that there are limits to how much Washington can pressure banks. But Perino says the government will be "watching very closely."

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