With the economy floundering, perhaps the greatest challenge for banks and thrifts receiving capital infusions from the government is putting the money to use quickly.

The Treasury Department is counting on its $250 billion investment in the banking sector to stimulate lending, but bankers and other industry experts say loan demand is weak right now and they tick off several reasons why it might be several quarters before it picks up: Construction has ground to a halt; many businesses are reluctant to take on debt, even if they are healthy; and fewer consumers are buying homes or cars.

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