MADISON, Wis. (2/4/08)--Credit unions' visibility has been heightened not only nationally but also in local media, with credit unions called on by reporters in their areas to provide comments about the economy. The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) has seen an increase in requests from national media for its experts' analysis on events such as the Federal Reserve rate cuts and the administration and Congress' economic stimulus package. Even local and state media are seeking out state leagues and credit unions to "localize" the national events for their area--something they would have approached banks for a decade ago. When the Federal Reserve cut the target for the fed funds rate last week, an Oregon newspaper said First Tech CU, based in Beaverton, Ore., was among financial institutions noting increased business (Statesman Journal Jan. 31). Bob Corwin, executive vice president and chief operating officer at the $1.6 billion asset credit union, said it did not drop its rates to adjust for the surprise Fed cut on Jan. 22 but planned a slight adjustment for last week's cut. The cut means it is a better time to refinance, Corwin told the newspaper, but he cautioned borrowers to consider other factors such as fees before rushing out to refinance. Two weeks before the last cut, First Tech's mortgage business was about 60% new mortgages and 40% refinancing. Now the ratio is even, but leaning toward 40% new mortgages and 60% refinancing. MaPS CU, Salem, Ore., dropped its standard rate on a certificate of deposit to 3.8% from 4.15%, Dan Penn, spokesman told the paper. The rates have not had a lot of time to hit consumers' pocketbook, said Mel Monroe, director of finance at MaPS. In Vermont, Opportunities CU CEO Caryl Stewart was among those interviewed by Vermont Public Radio's Jane Lindholm about the effects of a weakening economy on Vermont (Newslines Express Feb. 1). Stewart gave this opinion about the federal government's proposed economic stimulus package: "Anybody that we have any influence on, first of all, they need the money. And secondly, we will encourage them to put it aside, to pay down their credit cards, and to set a few dollars for their savings." To download a podcast of the interview or listen to it online, use the resource link.