From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
In economics, a subsidy (also known as a subvention) is a form of financial assistance paid to a business or economic sector. A subsidy can be used to support businesses that might otherwise fail, or to encourage activities that would otherwise not take place.
Subsidies can be regarded as a form of protectionism or trade barrier by making domestic goods and services artificially competitive against imports. Subsidies may distort markets, and can impose large economic costs. Financial assistance in the form of a subsidy may come from one's government, but the term subsidy may also refer to assistance granted by others, such as individuals or non-governmental institutions, although these would be more commonly described as charity.