It is more difficult for U.S. families and businesses to get loans, despite $350 billion in federal spending intended to make credit more available, according to a study by the Federal Reserve.
Nearly 60 percent of banks surveyed by the Fed revealed that they have tightened standards on consumer loans during the past three months.
The Fed study raises new questions, however. Among them: How many of the responding banks received federal "bailout" help? How was the money used? Did responding banks merely adjust rules to ensure that only responsible borrowers can get loans - or are even good credit risks suffering?
About $350 billion remains to be spent from the $700 bailout bill approved last fall by Congress. Not one dime of it should be distributed until it is known whether more spending actually will make more credit available.
To that we would add that if big financial institutions that already received help have not spent the money as intended, they should be told not to bother seeking more cash. If the bailout program is a flop, it ought to be discontinued.