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News Now

Washington
CUNA iBarronsi story on corporate costs off the mark
WASHINGTON (4/20/10)--Current corporate credit union loss estimates of $9 billion to $11 billion cited in a Barron's column are actually somewhat lower than earlier forecasts, notes Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Chief Economist Bill Hampel following the column's appearance this week. The Barron’s column recounts corporate investments in high-yielding, mortgage-backed securities as part of a strategy to offer lower-cost services and higher yields to member credit unions. “This wasn’t greed exactly; credit unions offer no stock options. They needed higher rates to subsidize their services and attract more customers,” writes columnist Jim McTague. The column includes loss estimates from CUNA’s Hampel of $9 billion to $11 billion on the portfolios from U.S. Central CU and WesCorp FCU, which were placed into conservatorship last year. Hampel said credit unions should bear in mind that the $9 billion to $11 billion figure in the Barron’s column includes both $5 billion in losses already absorbed by the capital of the corporates, plus current estimates of $4 billion to $6 billion to be covered by the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund, which credit unions are paying for through premium costs expensed over the next six to seven years. “The Barron’s column should not be read to suggest that the costs to the share insurance fund on the corporate portfolios is rising from an original $6 billion to something between $9 and $11 billion,” Hampel explains. “Rather, the loss estimate to the share insurance fund has actually fallen slightly from $6 billion to something between $4 billion and $6 billion.” Hampel adds that these are estimates on a portfolio whose actual losses may not be known for several years or more.


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