Abstract: Many Americans are angry at banks for taking bailout money while still cutting back on lending. But the government is also to blame. For reasons that remain unclear, the Troubled Asset Relief Program has channeled aid to bank holding companies rather than banks. The Obama administration’s new Financial Stability Plan will have more influence on bank lending if it actually directs its support to banks. To see why, it’s important to understand the distinction between banks and bank holding companies. Banks take deposits and make loans to consumers and corporations. Bank holding companies own or control these banks. The big holding companies also own other businesses, including ones that execute trades both on their clients’ behalf and for themselves.