NEW YORK (3/16/10)--At a time when the overall number of consumer loans are contracting, credit unions nationwide are saying “yes” to lending, The Wall Street Journal said Saturday. In Saturday’s article titled “Where to find the money,” Ruth Simons and Maurice Tamman said that credit unions and community banks nationwide are stepping up to help those seeking loans. Simons spoke to Bill Hampel, chief economist at the Credit Union National Association, about lending trends at credit unions. Hampel also supplied her with several credit union leads. “In the wake of the financial crisis that saddled banks with huge losses, the largest 10% of banks by asset size shrank their consumer lending by 4.7% last year, tightening the spigot on loans that aren’t backed by the government,” the two wrote. “At many smaller banks and credit unions, though, cash continued to flow. Consumer loans grew nearly 3% at financial institutions that fall in the bottom 50% of the industry in assets, according to the Journal's analysis of financial-institution data filed with regulators. “Some smaller banks and credit unions continued to ramp up their business in mortgages, auto loans and credit cards and gain from the pain of their larger rivals,” they added. State Employees CU, a $17 billion asset Raleigh, N.C.-based credit union, offers mortgages with a fixed rate for the first two years that adjust every two years afterwards, the Journal said. Rates start at 3.75% and “can increase by no more than than one percentage point every two years and by no more than eight percentage points over the life of the loan,” the paper added. Piedmont Advantage CU, a $239 million asset, Winston-Salem, N.C.-based credit union, lowered its credit card rate to fixed 6.9% from 8.9% “to help it members struggling in the weak economy,” the paper said. The Journal also noted OnPoint Community CU, Portland, Ore., for its credit cards, and DFCU Financial, Dearborn, Mich., and Antelope Valley CU, Lancaster, Calif., for auto loans. To read the article, use the link. The newspaper also ran a front-page story Monday, noting that small businesses say banks are too conservative in their lending policies.