Several theories of externalities and asymmetric information suggest a positive role for government programs to assist credit markets, though potential distortions by special interests carry attendant dangers. We examine the empirical association between funding by several federal government programs and subsequent economic performance, measured six ways, for nonmetropolitan U.S. counties during the 1990s. Significant differences are found across programs, performance measures, and market types. Observed tradeoffs suggest a need to compare policy objectives with acceptable costs in many cases. Overall, the results are consistent with theoretical predictions and with some standard policy objectives.