A program approved last fall that let banks issue debt backed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. enabled banks to continue to operate even as other businesses found it impossible to raise money. So far, banks, including Goldman Sachs, have issued $300 billion in debt under the program. "It's an infinite subsidy. It's their franchise value," said Mark Zandi, the chief economist at Moody's Economy.com. Bank executives say their firms may not have survived without the program.
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