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NCUA reports on green progress on Earth Day

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (4/25/11)--The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) celebrated Earth Day by hailing the increased success of its "greeNCUA" initiative, a project that the agency said has “produced tangible results aimed at protecting the planet.” “Everyone knows that NCUA works to ensure that credit unions remain in the black. NCUA, however, also works to go green each day of the year,” said NCUA Chairman Debbie Matz. The agency in a release noted that it recycled 43.5 tons of paper in 2010 and earlier this year encouraged its employees to bring in their own personal outdated or nonworking electronics, cables, CDs, and DVDs for proper recycling or destruction. Matz in the release said that she hopes credit unions will follow the NCUA’s lead and adopt green practices. “Earth Day is a great opportunity for everyone to make lasting changes that conserve our limited resources for future generations. One easy way for credit unions to cut paper use and to learn about NCUA’s work even earlier is to sign up for NCUA Express. In the near future, NCUA will expand this service to do even more to protect the environment,” Matz added. The NCUA Express system saves paper by directly communicating with credit unions via email. The greeNCUA initiative was launched in late 2009, and resulted in new recycling programs, energy-efficiency improvements and increased communication about environmental concerns at the NCUA.

Matz addresses FFIEC rate risk in interview

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (4/25/11)—National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) Chairman Debbie Matz last week said she will work to restore “the responsibility and accountability in our financial system” during her term as leader of the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council. Matz in an interview with CU Broadcast added that she is “honored to serve and establish the credit union industry as a larger part of the overall big picture of the financial industry.” Matz added that she has already “initiated discussions with the different sub-committees on how the FFIEC will address the many challenges now facing consumers and the financial services industry.” The NCUA Chairman took charge of the FFIEC, which promotes uniformity in financial institution regulation, on March 4. She is the first credit union representative to lead the group in over 20 years. The agency’s interest rate risk proposal was also discussed during the interview. The proposal, which was released last month and is open for comment until May 23, would require credit unions to develop a written policy on interest rate risk and to create their own interest rate risk management programs. The NCUA leader said that credit unions must establish these interest rate risk policies “to remain profitable.” “It’s extremely important credit unions remain proactive about interest rates right now because eventually interest rates will rise from today’s historic lows,” she added. Matz also addressed the agency’s NCUA-Safe public awareness campaign, the recently announced financial literacy grants, and the launch of its MyCreditUnion.gov website. For more on the interview, use the resource link.

CUNAs Magill covers interchange fight in iWSJi

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WASHINGTON (4/25/11)--Credit unions have been “extremely busy,” working on a grassroots push to delay the implementation of interchange fee changes, Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Senior Vice President of Legislative Affairs John Magill told The Wall Street Journal last week. The Journal item covered lobbying efforts in the wake of Dodd-Frank Act. Magill said that CUNA’s top priority “has been building support for legislation to delay the debit-card [interchange] rule.” The interchange provisions could lower the maximum fee charged per debit card transaction to 12 cents. Credit unions and other small institutions with assets of $10 billion and under would be exempt from the terms of the regulations, but many argue that this proposed exemption will not work as planned. The interchange regulation is expected to be released before its July 21 effective date. In the meantime, CUNA and credit union backers nationwide are working to grow support for House and Senate legislation that would delay implementation of the regulations. The separate House and Senate bills, which were introduced earlier this year by Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.) and Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), respectively, would also order a study of the interchange cap’s impact on consumers, financial institutions and merchants. Credit union supporters are working in home districts to urge their legislators to support a delay, and CUNA and the leagues' own legislative advocacy actions have helped credit unions generate nearly 150,000 contacts to Congress. Interchange legislation has also been challenged in the courts, with TCF National Bank bringing its own suit against the Federal Reserve. (See related story: April 21: State of the interchange rule)

Inside Washington (04/22/2011)

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* WASHINGTON (4/25/11)--Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s longtime project to make the Fed “more transparent and consensus-driven” will bear fruit later this week when the Fed holds its first-ever post policy meeting press conference. (The Wall Street Journal April 22) The scheduled press conference comes amid continued economic troubles and internal disagreements over the Fed’s own policies. The WSJ noted that Bernanke’s “new one-man show” could “undercut the collegiality” that he has built within the Fed. However, many of his colleagues support the new press conferences …