For the first time, the Federal Reserve's balance sheet exceeds $2 trillion as the central bank continues to lend huge sums of cash to financial institutions to keep short-term funding markets alive. The Fed's balance sheet grew from $1.953 trillion Oct. 29 to $2.058 trillion on Wednesday. Banks pulled back on direct borrowing from the Fed's discount window, but the industry remains dependent on the lender of last resort.

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