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CU volunteers blanket Cherry Blossom Run (04/09/2010)

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Click to view larger imageGetting there even before the runners arrive, CUNA and credit union volunteers blanket the National Mall before the Cherry Blossom Race to perform key tasks to help the race run smoothly. Shown here just as the sun is lighting the sky are some of the 15 CUNA volunteers who mostly stationed the tents where runners safely stow their gear while running. The two youngest members of the volunteer team are Randy Bloch, the son of Senior Assistant General Counsel Jeffrey Bloch ( who is third from left with his son directly to his right) and a friend, Ben Marcus. Also shown Regulatory Counsel Luke Martone, Alicia Valencia, League Relations Manager and AACUL Corporate Secretary, Richard Dines, Director League Relations, Sue McCue, Manager of Credit Union House, and Kristen Prather, CUNA Grassroots Manager. The photo was taken by fellow volunteer and CUNA senior vice president of communication, Mark Wolff. (CUNA Photo)
WASHINGTON (4/12/10)—As 15,000 runners raced through the city streets on Sunday, the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) again supported Childrens’ Hospitals by serving as a title sponsor of the 2010 edition of the Cherry Blossom Run. CUNA’s 15 volunteers braved the slight Sunday chill, reporting at 6 a.m. to man the race bag check. CUNA vice president of communications and media outreach Pat Keefe said that the volunteer efforts of CUNA and other credit unions demonstrates "the credit union difference" to those running the race. Over 27,000 runners registered for the 15,000 available spots, and the runners include over 700 members and staffers from Capitol Hill, including a record 39 congressional honorary co-chairs. Former record-holding marathoner Bill Rodgers and 1984 gold medalist marathoner Joan Benoit Samuelson, along with 40 Capitol Hill teams of 600-plus runners and 34 credit union teams with 170 runners, took part in the race. The race for the first time was streamed live online on and will air next week locally on WJLA-TV, the local ABC affiliate in Washington DC.

CUNA helps launch 2010 Cherry Blossom Race

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WASHINGTON (4/12/10)—A check presentation at Children's Hospital in Washington, D.C. Friday and distribution of credit union caps to U.S. congressional offices were just two of the ways the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) helped kick off the Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10-Mile Run.
Click for slide show Former CUNA Chairman Juri Valdov (fourth from left), a longtime supporter of the Cherry Blossom Race effort, proudly helps present a check for almost $1 million from funds raised by credit union to support the Children's Miracle Network. About 15,000 runners wended their ways through the streets of Washington and past its iconic cherry blossom trees whose fragile pink blossoms are just now being joined by pale green leaves. (CUNA Photo)
The race coursed through the streets of Washington on Sunday. (See related story: But on Friday things were set in motion when CUNA President/CEO Dan Mica addressed a kickoff press conference, which included presentation of a check for just under $1 million from funds raised by credit unions to support children’s healthcare. The event funds Children's Miracle Network (CMN), which in turn benefits Children’s Hospitals across the nation. In remarks, Mica noted the vital role that the Cherry Blossom Race plays in supporting Children’s Hospitals, and praised the work of Credit Union Miracle Day, the credit union group that organizes fundraising. Former CUNA Chairman Juri Valdov summed up credit union efforts this way: “Why do credit unions do this? We are in the helping people business. It’s a natural progression to be involved in a program like this to help families with a sick child.” Also showing support for the cause, Miss America 2010 Caressa Cameron spoke in support of credit unions’ contributions to the effort to help sick children and their families. “You’re doing an awesome thing,” Cameron told credit unions, “I’m happy you are part of making those miracles.” CUNA, leagues and credit unions well surpassed their goal of passing the $4 million mark in total donations raised for Children's Miracle Network through credit union involvement all year long. When the Miracle Day board handed CMN this year’s contribution of $923,000 it brought the total raised by credit unions to just under $4.6 million. Credit unions became “title sponsors” for the 10-mile race in 2002. World-class runners Bill Rodgers, a former record holder in the marathon, and Joan Benoit Samuelson, who won a gold medal in for the women’s marathon at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, are participating in this year’s race along with about 15,000 other runners. Rodgers and Benoit were at the Friday credit union press conference. Also to kick off the race and promote it on Capitol Hill, CUNA staffers distributed cheery Cherry Blossom 10-Mile Race caps to House and Senate congressional offices. During the race CUNA fielded a team of volunteers who worked the bag check tent where the 15,000 runners deposit and collect their belongings before and after the race. Forty members of Congress are honorary chairs of the credit union race. Also, there will be 40 Capitol Hill running teams with a total of more than 600 runners competing in the "Capitol Hill Competition, a "race within the race," that features teams of runners from the offices of senators and representatives. As CUNA Senior Vice President of Legislative Affairs John Magill explains, one of CUNA’s goals each year is to showcase to Congress and others in the Washington area the work credit unions do in support of their communities. "The Cherry Blossom Run has proven to be an ideal vehicle for this purpose. CUNA proudly supports the Cherry Blossom Run."

Inside Washington (04/09/2010)

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* WASHINGTON (4/12/10)--Federal Reserve Board Gov. Daniel Tarullo Thursday said the Fed needs to be careful when unwinding liquidity facilities so that it does not disrupt fragile markets. Tarullo spoke at a Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s community bankers’ conference (American Banker April 9). He emphasized caution about exit strategies that involve the early sale of assets before a sustainable recovery is grounded. The Fed should come up with a “single game plan” that will be announced before interest rates are raised, he said. The Fed is hoping to use interest on reserves that banks are holding to drain the $1.1 billion now held by institutions at Federal Reserve banks ... * WASHINGTON (4/12/10)--About 44% of respondents are strongly or somewhat in favor of financial regulatory reform, while 30% strongly or somewhat oppose reform, according to a poll by a Republican communications firm (American Banker April 9). Roughly 21% were strongly in favor of reform while 16% said they strongly oppose it. Fifty-two percent said they were significantly concerned that Congress would pass new regulations to raise costs, or reduce loan availability for the average consumers and small businesses ... * WASHINGTON (4/12/10)--The World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) is working to expand the number of member-owned Islamic investment and finance cooperatives (IIFC) in Afghanistan, and WOCCU Senior Vice President Barry Lennon told an audience of congressional staffers Thursday that he “expects more growth” as word of the financial cooperatives spreads. Afghanistan’s IIFCs, which WOCCU says are growing by 1,000 new members each month, held $8 million in total assets at the end of 2009. The U.S. Agency for International Development late last year awarded WOCCU $60.5 million to expand financial services in rural southern and eastern Afghanistan, and, in many cases, the IIFCs are the only option for financial services in rural areas ...

NCUAs Matz Proposed corp. CU rules would prevent future crisis

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ALEXANDRIA (4/12/10)--National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) Chairman Debbie Matz last week remarked that the proposed changes to the corporate credit union system, which “will go a long way toward preventing another corporate crisis from ever occurring,” would result in “fewer corporates, but stronger corporates.” The NCUA’s proposed rules for corporate credit unions, which were presented at the NCUA's board meeting in late 2009, would amend Part 704 of the NCUA's rules, adjusting the current corporate capital requirements by replacing the current 4% minimum total capital ratio with a 4% minimum leverage ratio, a 4% tier one risk-based capital ratio, and an 8% total risk-based capital ratio for adequately capitalized corporate credit unions. Corporate credit unions would be required to demonstrate capital ratios of 5%, 6% and 10%, respectively, to be considered well capitalized.
Click to view larger image NCUA Chairman Debbie Matz, right, with Texas Credit Union League President Dick Ensweiler. (Texas Credit Union League photo)
While the capital thresholds proposed by the NCUA “will be attainable for some corporates,” others “will need to find a new business model,” according to Matz. Additionally, a number of corporate credit unions are already discussing mergers. The NCUA corporate proposal would also prevent corporate credit unions from investing in collateralized debt obligations and net interest margin securities. The NCUA rules, if approved, would also limit so-called "golden parachutes" for troubled corporates, would require corporate credit unions to disclose their executive compensation packages, and would attempt to ensure that corporate boards are mainly comprised of natural person credit union employees. Any of these board members would need to hold the position of CEO, CFO, or COO at their member entity to be eligible for corporate credit union executive service, according to the NCUA proposal. The NCUA has also dedicated 20 “top” staff members to work on isolating the “severely impaired securities” that are also known as “legacy assets,” and Matz said that the NCUA may be “close to proposing a plan that would remove the riskiest legacy assets from ongoing corporates, while carrying forward the most valuable pieces of the corporate system.” Overall, the NCUA’s “comprehensive corporate resolution plan,” which Matz said could be presented to credit unions by the end of June, “would empower natural-person credit unions to choose which corporates they will support, would ensure that those corporates begin with clean balance sheets,” and “could even allow credit unions to recover future earnings from legacy assets that out-perform current loss projections.” Matz said that the NCUA is “confident that the new safeguards, when refined and implemented, will provide a framework for safety and soundness that protects America’s 90 million credit union members.” The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) recently called on the NCUA to develop a new business model for corporate credit unions that would require relatively smaller amounts of capital and result in small balance sheets comprised mostly of the settlement balances of natural person credit unions. CUNA last week also announced a 14-member Corporate Credit Union Next Steps Working Group that will provide recommendations to the CUNA board on ways to ensure that natural person credit unions of all sizes continue to have access to key correspondent services including payments, settlement, liquidity and investments. (See related story: CUNA forms Corporate CU Next Steps Working Group.)