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Holiday spending survey draws broad press attention

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WASHINGTON (11/22/11)—Major national media outlets covered the Credit Union National Association's (CUNA) and Consumer Federation of America's (CFA) 12th annual projection of consumers' holiday spending plans, which was unveiled during a Monday event at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

CUNA Chief Economist Bill Hampel is interviewed by a CNN reporter following Monday's release of the 2011 CUNA/CFA holiday spending survey (CUNA Photo) 
The survey of just more than 1,000 adult Americans indicated that overall holiday spending could remain steady in 2011, with only 8% of respondents saying they planned to increase their spending on gifts and other holiday-related items. The spending survey was developed from calls made to consumers between Nov. 10 and 13.

CUNA and CFA also pair the results with advice to help consumers keep holiday debt under control.  CUNA Chief Economist Bill Hampel and CFA Executive Director Stephen Brobeck presented the findings at yesterday's press conference, timed just ahead of Black Friday and the official start of the holiday shopping season.

Mark Wolff, CUNA senior vice president of communications, noted that CUNA "has been doing this joint press event with CFA for 12 years now as another way to reinforce that credit unions are a trusted resource for consumers." This year's press conference is "a particularly timely reminder," since it comes so soon after all the media and consumer interest in credit unions that surrounded Bank Transfer Day on Nov. 5, Wolff added.

Among the television, cable and radio networks, and newspaper groups that attended or covered the press conference:
  • ABC News;
  • CNN;
  • Bloomberg Radio
  • CBS Radio
  • Cox Broadcasting;
  • FOX News;
  • CNBC;
  • Reuters
  • Business News Americas; and
  • Xinhua.
Radio, television and print reporters also reached out to CUNA for further information after the event.  Today, for example, CUNA's Hampel is scheduled to do a live interview about the holiday spending survey results and consumer advice on KPCC, a prominent radio station in Los Angeles.  The live segment is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. PT.

House Financial Services schedule includes examination issues

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WASHINGTON (11/22/11)—The House Financial Services Committee has announced its schedule for the two weeks following the upcoming Thanksgiving break.

The most relevant hearings for credit unions will take place in the first full week of December, as the full Financial Services Committee discusses how new regulations are impacting financial institutions, small businesses and consumers in a Chicago-based Dec. 5 field hearing.

The full committee will also meet at 10:00 a.m. ET on Dec. 6 to discuss the STOCK Act (H.R. 1148). Dec. 6 will also feature a 2:00 p.m. ET House financial institutions subcommittee hearing on H.R. 3461, a bill that would allow financial institutions to appeal examination reports from federal financial regulators and provide further clarity to those regulators.

CUNA has backed this bill, saying it is "recognition that Congress is taking the concerns that we and others have raised regarding examinations seriously." (See related story: CUNA backs examination improvement bill)

The committee also announced the following on Monday:
  • A Tuesday, Nov. 29 House insurance, housing and community opportunity subcommittee field hearing on the manufactured housing industry;
  • A Wednesday, Nov. 30 full committee markup session on H.R. 3213, the Small Company Job Growth and Regulatory Relief Act of 2011; H.R. 2682, the Business Risk Mitigation and Price Stabilization Act of 2011; H.R. 2779, to exempt inter-affiliate swaps from certain regulatory requirements put in place by the Dodd-Frank Act; and H.R. 2586, the Swap Execution Facility Clarification Act;
  • A Thursday, Dec. 1 full committee hearing on the Federal Housing Administration's Single Family Insurance Fund and a separate oversight and investigations subcommittee hearing on the Federal Housing Finance Agency's performance as conservator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac;
  • A Wednesday, Dec. 7 capital markets subcommittee hearing on the "Private Mortgage Market Investment Act;" and
  • A Thursday, Dec. 8 House insurance, housing and community opportunity subcommittee markup session of bills related to the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, the Dodd-Frank Act, and housing issues.

Cheney Tax status remains top priority post-supercommittee (11/21/2011)

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WASHINGTON (11/22/11)--As the Congressional Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction on Monday announced its inability to reach a deal to address the spiraling national debt, concerns that the credit union tax status could be one of many moves made to eliminate tax expenditures receded.

Credit Union National Association (CUNA) President/CEO Bill Cheney said CUNA's concern had been the possibility that the credit union tax status might somehow get in the mix of possible deficit reduction measures, and although CUNA assessed this threat as "low, but not zero," it "took this threat very seriously because of the unprecedented nature of the process by which Congress was attempting to deal with deficit reduction."

The so-called supercommittee, which was created by the Budget Control Act in August, was tasked by Congress to produce legislation to reduce the deficit by $1.2 trillion over the next ten years. The supercommittee was co-chaired by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) Democratic Sens. Max Baucus (Mont.) and John Kerry (Mass.), Republican Sens. John Kyl (Ariz.), Rob Portman (Ohio), and Pat Toomey (Penn.), House Democrats, Reps. Xavier Becerra (Calif.), Jim Clyburn (S.C.), and Chris Van Hollen (Md.), and House Republicans Fred Upton and Dave Camp, both of Michigan, also served on the panel.

The deficit reduction committee was required to vote on a final reduction plan by Nov. 23. A predetermined set of cuts to defense and domestic spending will come into effect in 2013 if other spending cuts are not agreed to.

Murray and Hensarling in a joint release said they were "deeply disappointed" that the committee was "unable to come to a bipartisan deficit reduction agreement," and President Barack Obama urged Congress to work on new measures to reduce the deficit.

CUNA closely followed developments surrounding the supercommittee, and repeatedly emphasized the positive impact that the credit unions have on the members and communities that they serve. Cheney added that CUNA will continue to monitor for any threats to the tax status that could develop should Congress engage in comprehensive tax reform efforts in 2012 or 2013.

CUNA backs examination improvement bill

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WASHINGTON (11/22/11)--The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) has welcomed H.R. 3461, which would allow financial institutions to appeal examination reports from federal financial regulators and provide further clarity to those regulators, saying the bill is "recognition that Congress is taking the concerns that we and others have raised regarding examinations seriously."

·    Portions of the bill that would establish a new Office of Examination Ombudsman to investigate complaints about examinations and look at examination quality assurance;

·    Language that would require regulatory agencies to list any information that was used to support a certain regulatory action or request;

·    Language that would allow financial institutions to appeal any material supervisory determination in an exam report to an independent administration law judge.

"There are also areas where CUNA will ask the sponsors to improve the bill, and we want to work with Congress to find solutions to improve the examination process in these challenging economic times," Donovan added.

A hearing on the bill is scheduled to take place in the House financial institutions subcommittee on Dec. 6 at 2:00 p.m. ET.

For more on the bill, use the resource link.

Cheney Tax status remains top priority post-supercommittee

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WASHINGTON (11/22/11)--As the Congressional Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction on Monday announced itsr inability to reach a deal to address the spiraling national debt, concerns that the credit union tax status could be one of many moves made to eliminate tax expenditures receded.

Credit Union National Association (CUNA) President/CEO Bill Cheney said CUNA's concern had been the possibility that the credit union tax status might somehow get in the mix of possible deficit reduction measures, and although CUNA assessed this threat as "low, but not zero," it "took this threat very seriously because of the unprecedented nature of the process by which Congress was attempting to deal with deficit reduction."

The so-called supercommittee, which was created by the Budget Control Act in August, was tasked by Congress to produce legislation to reduce the deficit by $1.2 trillion over the next ten years. The supercommittee was co-chaired by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) Democratic Sens. Max Baucus (Mont.) and John Kerry (Mass.), Republican Sens. John Kyl (Ariz.), Rob Portman (Ohio), and Pat Toomey (Penn.), House Democrats, Reps. Xavier Becerra (Calif.), Jim Clyburn (S.C.), and Chris Van Hollen (Md.), and House Republicans Fred Upton and Dave Camp, both of Michigan, also served on the panel.

The deficit reduction committee was required to vote on a final reduction plan by Nov. 23. A predetermined set of cuts to defense and domestic spending will come into effect in 2013 if other spending cuts are not agreed to.

Murray and Hensarling in a joint release said they were "deeply disappointed" that the committee was "unable to come to a bipartisan deficit reduction agreement," and President Barack Obama urged Congress to work on new measures to reduce the deficit.

CUNA closely followed developments surrounding the supercommittee, and repeatedly emphasized the positive impact that the credit unions have on the members and communities that they serve. Cheney added that CUNA will continue to monitor for any threats to the tax status that could develop should Congress engage in comprehensive tax reform efforts in 2012 or 2013.

AACUL announces 2012 executive board

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PALM BEACH, Fla. (11/22/11)--Bill Mellin, president/CEO of the Credit Union Association of New York, was elected the new chairman of the American Association of Credit Union Leagues (AACUL) Executive Board at the AACUL annual business meeting Nov. 19.   Mellin leads a newly elected AACUL Executive Board that also includes:

  • First vice chairman--Wendell Lyons, CEO of the Kentucky Credit Union League;
  • Second vice chairman--Tracie Kenyon, CEO of the Montana Credit Union Network;
  • Treasurer--John Radebaugh, CEO of the North Carolina Credit Union League; and 
  • Secretary--Mark Cummins, CEO of the Minnesota Credit Union Network.
Mellin has served on the AACUL Board since 2004, most recently as first vice chairman.  He has also served as the chairman of CULAC, the  political action committee of the Credit Union National Association (CUNA).  As chairman of AACUL, Mellin will be an ex-officio member of the CUNA Board of Directors as well as the CUNA Executive Committee, and will participate in a leadership role with other credit union system organizations.  

"The AACUL Board has been at the forefront of key industry issues and, with the support of leagues, has been integral in developing new initiatives to help the credit union system grow and thrive," said Mellin. "I look forward to working with my colleagues on the AACUL Executive Board to build on these accomplishments."

Key AACUL initiatives of the past year include the development and launch of a new website, aSmarterChoice.org, to help consumers learn about credit unions and find one they are eligible to join; development of a new "Plan to Win" political and grassroots mobilization strategy; and the establishment of a new AACUL Regulatory Advocacy Advisory Committee to address regulatory burden issues and bring together best practices between CUNA and the leagues.

AACUL was founded in 1942 as the International Association of Managing Directors and is comprised of state credit union associations representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia.  AACUL's mission is based on the premise that the vitality of the credit union community is enhanced by a strong three-tiered system that has advocacy as its primary focus.

Inside Washington (11/21/2011)

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  • WASHINGTON (11/22/11)--As special adviser to the secretary of the Treasury, Raj Date is currently filling two roles at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB): one left by the departure of Elizabeth Warren, the former Harvard professor who shaped CFPB, and the one created by the stalled nomination of Richard Cordray, President Barack Obama's nomination as the agency's director (The Hill Nov. 21). Date also was instrumental in forming the bureau, serving as one of Warren's top deputies, alongside Cordray. So far, the CFPB has hired 750 employees, including 50 during a two-week span in November. Senate Republicans have pledged to block the Cordray's appointment until the CFPB is subject to additional oversight. Republicans say the bureau holds too much oversight for a single regulator and should be replaced with a multi-member commission. But Date told The Hill there are plenty of people in the financial industry who, like him, want consumer finance to work better for consumers …

CFACUNA Consumer holiday spending predictions still lag pre-recession years

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WASHINGTON (11/22/11)—The 2011 Consumer Federation of America (CFA)/Credit Union National Association (CUNA) holiday spending survey has found that spending continues to improve following the great recession, but "spending plans are still considerably below where they were before the recession," CUNA Chief Economist Bill Hampel said on Monday.
Click for slide show Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Chief Economist Bill Hampel (left) and Consumer Federation of America (CFA) Executive Director Stephen Brobeck announce the results of their 12th annual joint survey on consumer holiday spending expectations. CUNA Senior Vice President of Communications Mark Wolff noted the annual joint effort is "another way to reinforce that credit unions are a trusted resource for consumers," adding, "And this year it is a particularly timely reminder coming so soon after Bank Transfer Day." (CUNA Photo)
This year's survey has found that 8% of respondents plan to spend more on gifts and holiday items, with 41% of respondents saying they would spend less this holiday season. These results are nearly identical to last year's consumer predictions, when the CFA and CUNA survey found that one in ten consumers would up their holiday spending, and 41% at that time saying they would curtail their holiday spending. In 2008, the peak of the recession, 55% of respondents said they intended to cut their holiday spending, which was well above the 40% or less, on average, who said they'd cut their spending between 2000 and 2007. The survey, which was presented during a Monday event at The National Press Club in Washington, D.C., was executed between Nov. 10 and 13 and questioned 1011 adults. This is the 12th consecutive year that CUNA and the CFA have partnered to conduct the survey and offer consumer advice on managing holiday debt. The 2011 survey showed a direct link between financial condition and planned spending, with 33% of those that said they would spend more this year saying their financial condition had improved since 2010. Just over half (55%) of those who said they were planning to spend less said their financial status was worse than last year. Overall, 35% of households with $100,000 or more in yearly income reported that their financial condition improved, while 50% of households with annual incomes below $25,000 said their financial situation had worsened over the past year. The CFA and CUNA suggested that consumers that are looking to spend less this holiday season stick to a predetermined budget for gifts, holiday foods, party clothes, holiday decor and postage. Consumers will also benefit financially from comparison shopping and can plan for future holidays by shopping post-holiday sales for next years' gifts. Starting a holiday savings account, or curbing spending by finding low- or no-cost ways to celebrate the holidays, are also options, CFA Executive Director Stephen Brobeck said.

NCUA employees say agency is a great place to work

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (11/22/11)--The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) was ranked as the best small federal government agency workplace for workers under age 40, and the fourth-best workplace for women, according to a recent survey of government employees.

Overall, the NCUA ranked 16th out of 35 small federal agencies. The NCUA finished 23rd in this ranking last year.

NCUA Chairman Debbie Matz said the board is "proud of the growing recognition that NCUA is one of the best places to work," and added that they are "especially gratified that women and young professionals, including many of our newest employees, view NCUA as a workplace where their careers can flourish."

The survey, which was compiled by the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service, asked federal workers from 308 federal agencies and subcomponents to rank their workplace based on several criteria. Those criteria included:

  • Employee skills/mission match;
  • Teamwork;
  • Fairness;
  • Training and development;
  • Pay; and
  • Support for diversity.
More than 276,000 workers responded to the survey.

For the full survey, use the resource link.

NEW CFACUNA Reports 2011 Holiday Spending Survey Results

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WASHINGTON (UPDATED: 1:15 P.M. ET, 11/21/11)—The 2011 Consumer Federation of America (CFA)/Credit Union National Association (CUNA) holiday spending survey has found that spending continues to improve following the great recession, but "spending plans are still considerably below where they were before the recession," CUNA Chief Economist Bill Hampel said.

This year's survey has found that 8% of respondents plan to spend more on gifts and holiday items, with 41% of respondents saying they would spend less this holiday season. These results are nearly identical to last year's consumer predictions, when the CFA and CUNA survey found that one in ten consumers would up their holiday spending, and 41% at that time saying they would curtail their holiday spending. In 2008, the peak of the recession, 55% of respondents said they intended to cut their holiday spending, which was well above the 40% or less, on average, who said they'd cut their spending between 2000 nd 2007.

The survey, which was presented during a Monday event at The National Press Club in Washington, D.C., was executed between Nov. 10 and 13 and questioned 1011 adults. This is the 12th consecutive year that CUNA and the CFA have partnered to conduct the survey and offer consumer advice on managing holiday debt.

The 2011 survey showed a direct link between financial condition and planned spending, with 33% of those that said they would spend more this year saying their financial condition had improved since 2010. Just over half (55%) of those who said they were planning to spend less said their financial status was worse than last year. Overall, 35% of households with $100,000 or more in yearly income reported that their financial condition improved, while 50% of households with annual incomes below $25,000 said their financial situation had worsened over the past year.

The CFA and CUNA suggested that consumers that are looking to spend less this holiday season stick to a predetermined budget for gifts, holiday foods, party clothes, holiday decor and postage. Consumers will also benefit financially from comparison shopping and can plan for future holidays by shopping post-holiday sales for next years' gifts. Starting a holiday savings account, or curbing spending by finding low- or no-cost ways to celebrate the holidays, are also options, CFA Executive Director Stephen Brobeck said.