MADISON, Wis. (6/9/09)--Most south-central Wisconsin credit unions are getting through the recession better than most banks, according to the most recent financial-strength ratings from two national ratings services. Although some have had challenges, none of the 42 area credit unions received the lowest one-star ratings, based on 2008 financial data analyzed by Bankrate.com and Bauer Financial (Wisconsin State Journal June 6). Compared with banks, credit unions have three advantages, Russ Kashian, economics professor at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, told the newspaper. They don’t pay taxes--which bolsters their income statements; they have a homogenous client base, which helps them make safer loans; and their average loan is smaller, which results in less risk. Credit unions usually make smaller loans than banks because credit unions tend to make consumer loans, as opposed to big commercial loan or real estate loans, Brett Thompson, president/CEO of the Wisconsin Credit Union League, told the paper. However, credit unions’ relationships with their members are the key to their success, he added. “Credit unions know their members and therefore, can [better] assess the risk,” Thompson explained.