The U.S. Treasury started its program to get troubled assets off banks' balance sheets, nearly a year after it was approved by Congress. When the program was proposed, the government said removing illiquid and difficult-to-value assets was one of the most urgent priorities. In the first round of asset purchases, the Treasury spent about $4.5 billion, with 25% of the money coming from private investors. The program could eventually grow to $40 billion, Treasury officials said.

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