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Here’s hoping the audacious beginning of President Barack Obama’s administration does indeed usher in an era of responsibility and accountability because this lack of clarity is painful. Halfway through the $700 billion federal financial bailout and questions abound, as Contributing Editor Dave Lindorff points out in this month’s feature, Follow the Money…If You Can. It seems some banks are holding onto their bailout money, shoring up their balance sheets to ensure survival and building their war chests for future acquisitions, while others just can’t get enough to stem the tide of mounting losses. At press time, Obama had promised more direction, conditions and transparency on the second half of the bailout money as his economic team crafted a revised bank-rescue plan to pair with the president’s economic stimulus package. The plunging economy exerts tremendous pressure on midsize companies in particular but some like HealthTrans, Little Caesar and Western Container, spotlighted by Senior Contributing Editor Richard Gamble in this month’s cover story, still manage a big company mindset as they leverage technology and look for new ways to streamline and automate. And the middle market is in luck in getting help from the big third-party outsourcers that see demand from big corporations waning and turn their efforts to serving midsize needs, writes Executive Editor Beth Karlin. Still, there’s no escaping a gloomy outlook as senior finance executives responding to Treasury & Risk’s annual Middle Market Survey say that worsening economic conditions comprise their biggest challenge. Clearly, there is much work to be done

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