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CUs push on MBL interchange cited in NYT WSJ
NEW YORK (3/9/11)--Credit unions' efforts on raising the member business lending (MBL) cap and urging a deeper review of the implications of the Federal Reserve rule on debit interchange received attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg Businessweek, MarketWatch and Politico, among others, this week. In Bloomberg Businessweek (March 9), Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Chief Economist Bill Hampel provided analysis related to the MBL bill, introduced Tuesday by Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and which would increase credit unions' MBL cap to 27.5% of assets from the current 12% of assets. CUNA and credit unions have urged Congress for some time to increase the cap so credit unions could help stimulate the economy by making small business loans. In the article, Hampel noted that credit unions had about $39 billion in outstanding loans to small businesses last year, an increase from $24 billion in 2006. Similar loans at banks peaked in 2008 at nearly $799 billion and declined to $626 billion in 2010, said the article. Roughly 350 credit unions are near the cap, meaning business loans constitute between 7.5% and 12.5% of their assets, Hampel told the publication. Even at 7.5%, a credit union would start tapping the brakes on MBLs and still reach the cap in three years. Credit unions' average MBL totals $200,000. Loans go to businesses owned by credit union members, he said. The Wall Street Journal and MarketWatch were among the publications that published an article "Credit Unions Push for Small-Business Lending," which outlined credit unions efforts. In the article, Udall said that the bill "is one of the few easy ways that we have to support credit unions, small businesses and help create jobs all at once." The article also featured statistics from CUNA citing the number of new small business jobs that raising the lending cap would create. It also featured St. Mary's Bank, the nation's oldest credit union, as one of the credit unions that is bumping up against the cap. On the debit interchange issue, Politico and The New York Times were among the publications that reported credit unions' lobbying to persuade lawmakers to delay the Federal Reserve's new rules until the implications are studied further. Under the rules, it will be more expensive for a merchant to use a credit union card than a Bank of America card, Pat Keefe, CUNA vice president of communications and media outreach, told Politico. The New York Times reported testimony by credit union CEOs John P. Buckley, president of Gerber FCU, Fremont, Mich., and CUNA witness Frank Michael, president of Allied CU, Stockton, Calif., during a hearing of a House of Representatives subcommittee last week on the issue. Use the links to view the articles.
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