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Inside Washington (12/04/2009)
* WASHINGTON (12/7/09)--National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) Board Member Michael Fryzel met with Andrews FCU President/CEO Chris McDonald and Defense Credit Union Council President/CEO Arty Arteaga at the credit union’s headquarters in Suitland, Md. They discussed member services, real estate trends and potential concerns for credit unions in the future. “Credit unions continue to listen to the concerns of their members and work to meet their needs regarding certain products and services, a task that during these challenging economic times remains a focus for credit unions across the country,” Fryzel said. Andrews FCU has $860.6 million in assets. From left are McDonald and Fryzel. (Photo provided by the National Credit Union Administration) ... * WASHINGTON (12/7/09)--After Bank of America Corp. announced it will pay back the funds it received in the government bailout by year-end, financial observers predict that its rivals will follow suit. BoA may have set a new benchmark for leaving the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), they added. BoA has projected a Tier 1 common capital ratio of 8.5%, something that rival Citigroup could match, observers said. Citigroup posted Tier 1 capital at 9.1% at the end of the third quarter (American Banker Dec. 4). Ethan Heisler, managing director at Hexagon Securities, said that every bank will repay its funds--but many haven’t been approved to do so yet. Heisler noted that BoA’s plan to repay the funds doesn’t mean the company is healthier than its counterparts ... * WASHINGTON (12/7/09)--Bank of America Corp.’s plan to repay its Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) debt by the end of the year seems like a safe move, but analysts said the move places a “big bet on the economy.” Alois Pirker, research director at Aite Group LLC, said there are benefits to repaying the funds, but questioned if the benefits outweigh the risks because nobody is sure what the markets will do next year (American Banker Dec. 4). William Fitzpatrick, analyst at Optique Capital Management, was stunned at BoA’s move to leave TARP, he said. He questioned whether BoA would need the government’s help again if the economy tanked. However, the Fed felt that BoA is in a good position to repay its TARP money, said Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke. Robert Stickler, BoA spokesman, noted the company can survive regardless of the economy, and has never made secret its desire to leave TARP ... * WASHINGTON (12/7/09)--Some lawmakers are working to block Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke’s reconfirmation as Fed chief (American Banker Dec. 4). Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) said he’d do everything to drag out the reconfirmation process, while Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) put a hold on the nomination, forcing Senate leaders to get 60 votes before moving forward. The question is whether Bernanke is the best one to lead the nation out of financial crisis, said Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.). Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) indicated she would wait on deciding how to vote o the matter, while Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) said he would “probably” vote for Bernanke. However, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) said Bernanke is the right leader “for this moment in our nation’s economic history” ... * WASHINGTON (12/7/09)--The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) said it will release more information about failed bank bids (American Banker Dec. 4). However, the cover bid, or second-best offer, will be withheld for one year. The names of losing bidders will be public after the failure of the bank, but it will be unclear which bidder belongs to each bank. Dan Bass, managing director of Carson Medlin Co.’s Houston office, said the changes the FDIC has made are a “good compromise” because they provide information about what is taking place ... * WASHINGTON (12/7/09)--Competition regarding 529 college-savings plan management fees is intensifying, financial observers said. Fidelity Investments, Vanguard Group and TIAA-CREF have been lowering fees (American Banker Dec. 4). Fidelity cut its program management fees by a third to a half for its five state-sponsored plans on Tuesday. The cuts are good for consumers because they will encourage investment in the plans said, Mark Kantrowitz, founder and publisher of FinAid.org. Many credit unions offer private student lending programs. CU Student Choice, a credit union service organization that offers lending services, has more than 80 credit unions in its network (News Now Aug. 21) ... * WASHINGTON (12/7/09)--The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Friday issued the 2010 optional standard mileage rates to calculate the deductible costs to operate an automobile for business purposes. The standard mileage rates for the user of a car (including vans, pickups or panel trucks) will be 50 cents per mile for business miles driven, 16.5 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes, and 14 cents per mile driven in service or charitable organizations. The rates for 2010 reflect lower transportation costs than a year ago, the IRS said ...


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