WASHINGTON — It's becoming something of a pattern: The government announces a program designed to stabilize financial markets or kickstart lending, but after weeks or months of delay, the goal is shifted or the program simply doesn't work as expected.

The latest example is the Federal Reserve Board's Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility, or Talf, which was hailed as a way to revive consumer lending when it was unveiled in November but generated anemic interest when it was launched last month and attracted even less interest from investors this week.

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