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Cheney links Small Biz Saturday to CU MBL support

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WASHINGTON (11/21/12)--Small Business Saturday, which is coming up this weekend, is a day to support the backbone of our nation's economy and keep communities thriving. Credit Union National Association (CUNA) President/CEO Bill Cheney said legislators could help support small business every day of the year by increasing the credit union member business lending (MBL) cap.

Few have been affected more by the financial crisis than small business owners, and many of those owners found the banks they had relied on for years had abandoned them when they needed support the most, Cheney said. "Lines of credit were pulled. Loans were called.  Businesses closed. Hard working people lost jobs."

However, he noted, credit unions have been lending to small businesses for more than 100 years and continued to lend to small business owners as the banks pulled back. Credit union business lending portfolios grew 45% during the recession. Over the same time, bank business offerings contracted by 15%, Cheney said.

"Some of the small businesses open for business on Saturday would not be there but for their credit union.  But, banking lobbyists' opposition to the Credit Union Small Business Jobs Act could mean they may not be there next year on Small Business Saturday," Cheney wrote.

Cheney encouraged members of the U.S. Congress to help credit unions continue to help small businesses by enacting a pro-MBL bill, S. 2231, before this year is out.

S. 2231 would increase credit unions' current 12.25%-of-assets MBL cap to 27.5% of assets. Similar House legislation has also been introduced. Advocacy for these two MBL cap increase bills will be the main focus of a late-November National Hike the Hill.

CUNA has estimated that the proposed MBL cap increase could inject $13 billion in funds into the economy, creating as many as 140,000 new jobs in the first year following enactment.

In a pro-MBL column that ran in the Huffington Post, American Consumer Institute (ACI) Center for Citizen Research President Steve Pociask said these credit union investments could create a multiplier effect, contributing $32.7 billion to U.S. Gross Domestic Product, $8.2 billion in employment earnings and 188,000 new jobs. (See related Nov. 20 story: MBL cap harms biz competitiveness, ACI notes in HuffPo)

CFACUNA present 2012 holiday spending survey today

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WASHINGTON (11/21/12)--Holiday spending plans, consumer debt concerns and the nation's general feelings about the economy will be revealed when Consumer Federation of America (CFA) Executive Director Stephen Brobeck and Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Chief Economist Bill Hampel present the 2013 Holiday Spending Survey today at the National Press Club in Washington.

The survey presentation is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. ET in the National Press Club's Zenger Room.

This is the 13th year that the CFA and CUNA have teamed up to present the survey, which is released ahead of Black Friday, the official start of the holiday shopping season.

The survey, which was conducted between Nov. 9 and 13, documents the change in consumers' attitude in spending compared to the last several years as the economy continues to recover from the most severe recession in decades. The survey also benchmarks whether consumers feel their financial situation has become better or worse in the past year, and will disclose, for the first time, whether queried consumers have the cash on hand to cope with an unexpected $1,000 expense.

The CFA and CUNA also present tips for managing holiday spending, including low-cost and free ways for families to celebrate the holiday, during the survey release.

The release of the survey typically garners heavy media attention from local, national and international news outlets, including ABC News, CNN, National Public Radio, Xinhua, FOX News, Reuters and Business News Americas.

Fed CFPB set 2013 credit lease thresholds

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WASHINGTON (11/21/12)--The minimum fee trigger for Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act (HOEPA) requirements will be increased to $625 in 2013, the Federal Reserve and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) reported this week.

The agencies are required to adjust the amount of mortgage fees that trigger additional disclosures under Truth in Lending as required under HOEPA each year.

The Fed and CFPB release also noted that the protections of the Truth in Lending Act (TILA) and the Consumer Leasing Act will generally apply to consumer credit transactions and consumer leases of $53,000 or less in 2013. However, the agencies noted, private education loans and loans that are secured by mortgages and other property will be subject to TILA regardless of the amount of the loan.

For the Fed release, use the resource link.

CUs economy covered in Cheney iReutersi appearance

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WASHINGTON (11/21/12)--Credit unions have seen record membership and loan growth in recent months, and should continue to have strong growth in both of these areas, Credit Union National Association (CUNA) President/CEO Bill Cheney said in a Tuesday interview with Reuters reporter Fred Katayama.

Cheney also discussed the housing market, mortgage rates, the looming fiscal cliff and other issues during the interview.

Cheney said the housing market is making a slow, steady recovery that CUNA believes should continue. Mortgage rates should also stay relatively low into the future. While there may be a slight increase in mortgage rates over the next year, that increase may not be more than 50 basis points, he said. And, while the mortgage rates charged by credit unions and banks are often very similar, "credit union fees are much lower--so you still save money with a mortgage at a credit union," Cheney added.

Credit unions are well positioned for any economic outcome, and fared well during the economic crisis.

"Because credit unions were careful lenders before the crisis and also during the crisis, they didn't turn their backs on their members. They were there making loans throughout the crisis and that helped them build that market share and they are going to continue to do that," he added.

Credit unions "can weather any storm," including potential issues caused by the looming fiscal cliff, Cheney added. Regarding the fiscal cliff, Cheney said he is confident that the U.S. Congress can come up with a framework to resolve pressing tax and spending issues, but "there are no guarantees in Washington these days." Legislators may create a temporary solution and return to address the issues at a later date, he said.