News Now Archive

Published on January 4, 2013.

Take on banks' bills when needed: CUNA strategy

WASHINGTON (1/4/12)--The Credit Union National Association's (CUNA) John Magill said that CUNA is prepared to take on the banks whenever  that is what is required to move credit union legislative priorities.

"It's not in the credit union DNA to have a knee-jerk reaction against everything the banks try to do.  But if that is what it takes to bring the banks to the table to work together on financial institutions issues, then that's what we'll do," declared Magill, who heads CUNA's legislative affairs department.

CUNA unveiled its 2013 legislative priorities Wednesday, citing its " four-pillar" agenda:  preserving the credit union tax status; reducing regulatory burden; engaging in housing finance reform; and advancing credit union charter enhancements, such as increased member business lending authority and supplemental capital. (See News Now Jan. 3:  A closer look: CUNA sets four-pillar legislative agenda)
Magill explained that CUNA is prepared to toughen its approach to credit union advocacy in 2013, if needed.

CUNA tried to "bring the banks to the table" through much of 2012 to get them to ease their opposition to CUNA-backed legislation that would increase the credit union member business lending cap (H.R. 1418/S. 2231). 

"Despite the boost an increased cap would give the economy, the banks continued their knee-jerk opposition to these credit union bills," Magill noted.  CUNA responded, he said, and "made a loud statement" when, late last year, it aggressively opposed legislation that would have extended the Transaction Account Guarantee (TAG).

A bill to extend TAG was strongly favored by major bank trade associations. TAG granted unlimited deposit insurance coverage for noninterest bearing transaction accounts during the financial crisis.  The program expired Dec. 31.

Credit unions were covered under the TAG program, but CUNA found its members were not in favor of an extension.  Magill said CUNA scrutinized the extension bill, but could find no good public policy reason to extend it. The group actively opposed the extension and urged credit unions to do the same, a switch from CUNA's longstanding approach of remaining neutral on banks' legislation.

The TAG bill failed to gain the 60 votes needed in the U.S.  Senate to move it forward for final consideration. The final vote count was 42 to 50.

The credit union win and CUNA's key role in it was quickly noted as one of the top 10 lobbying victories of 2012 by D.C.-based political publication The Hill.

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Small CU definition leads NCUA meeting agenda

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (1/4/13)--A final rule to raise the small credit union asset threshold will lead the agenda when the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) holds its first open meeting of 2013 next Thursday.

In September the agency proposed to increase the asset test that defines a "small" credit union to $30 million in assets, up from the current $10 million. The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) has advocated that for purposes of regulatory flexibility, NCUA should use the same asset level as does the Small Business Administration (SBA).

The SBA's definition of "small" entity includes institutions with assets of up to $175 million. The agency is considering raising the level of $500 million. For purposes of assistance from the NCUA, the agency should set the threshold at $50 million, CUNA has urged. 

Also on the agenda: A final rule that would extend the time that credit unions have to respond to the NCUA regarding possible low-income designation to 90 days. The current response deadline is 30 days.

CUNA supported the proposal, which would also make minor technical amendments to the NCUA's insurance regulation to reflect current agency practices.

Another final rule on the agenda would define a federally insured state credit union as in "troubled condition" if either the NCUA or the state regulator assigns a CAMEL rating of 4 or 5. CUNA maintains this regulatory change is unnecessary.

The NCUA agenda also includes:

The open meeting is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. (ET). A closed meeting typically follows an open session, but one has not been scheduled for Jan. 10.

For the full NCUA open meeting agenda, use the resource link.
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Two things CUs should know about 'fiscal cliff' bill: CUNA

WASHINGTON (1/4/13)--Despite the 'fiscal cliff' legislation's many tentacles, the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) said Thursday there are only two aspects of the tax package that are of direct interest to credit unions.

CUNA Senior Vice President of Legislative Affairs Ryan Donovan said credit unions should know that the bill:

That act provides tax relief to borrowers who might lose their home to foreclosure or who have negotiated a loan-term modification to forestall foreclosure. It was set to expire at the end of 2012.

The mortgage forgiveness measure altered portions of the U.S. tax code that required lender-forgiven mortgage debt to be treated as taxable income on a borrower's yearly income tax return. The measure became law in 2007.

CUNA last month joined with housing, real estate, and banking industry groups to urge congressional leaders to renew the act to help as many underwater homeowners as possible.

"If Congress fails to act, the possibility of receiving a tax bill would make it more difficult and expensive for these struggling homeowners to accept short sales and many loan modification offers" and thereby act as a foil to current loss-mitigation efforts, CUNA said in the joint letter.
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CUNA's Hampel talks jobs on CNBC

WASHINGTON (1/4/13)--Interviewed live Thursday afternoon on CNBC's Closing Bell, Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Chief Economist Bill Hampel said "things are looking up" for the economy and job markets in 2013.

Hampel said he expects Friday's jobs report, the first of 2013, to show that between 150,000 and 170,000 new non-farm jobs were added last month. "Given the decline in jobless numbers over the last five weeks, we would have expected a payroll number [Friday] of more than 200,000… but we think businesses were spooked by the talk of the fiscal cliff, and hiring has probably been pulled back," Hampel added.

CUNA economists also see an uptick in the unemployment rate from 7.7% to 7.8%, he said.

Kevin Cummins of UBS and Philip Noftsinger of CBIZ Payroll Services also appeared during the segment.

For video of the segment, use the resource link.
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113th Congress sworn in

WASHINGTON (1/4/13)--New and returning members of the U.S. House and Senate were sworn in on Capitol Hill yesterday. The Credit Union National Association (CUNA), state credit union leagues, and credit union representatives attended about 35 welcoming events before and after the swearing-in ceremonies.

"Our participation at these events," said CUNA Vice President of Political Affairs Trey Hawkins Thursday "gives credit union representatives a dynamic way to interact with many policymakers at once. Like CUNA's involvement in the national political conventions, this is an opportunity we want to take on behalf of credit unions."

After one of the briefest recesses in history, when the 112th Congress adjourned Jan. 1 after hammering out a 'fiscal cliff' package of tax measures, the 113th Congress opened for legislative business just two days

Click to view larger imageChristine Blake, CEO Cardinal Community CU, Ashtabula, Ohio, with Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio) during yesterday's events. (OCUL Photo).
later.

CUNA representatives and members of credit union leagues from Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas and Kentucky blanketed House and Senate venues hosting open houses and swearing in ceremonies.

CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney alone spoke with about 23 senators, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Senate Banking Committee member Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), a new member of the Senate banking panel.  Also, Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), John Boozman (R-Ariz.), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

Other CUNA- and league-attended events included a welcome for returning House Majority Leader John Boehner, of Ohio, and events for Reps. Dan Maffei (D-N.Y.) and Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), both of whom were backed by CUNA with independent expenditures during their 2012 election campaigns, Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), whom CUNA and the Montana Credit Union League supported via a partisan communication.

Among others visited were new Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), who has a seat on the Senate Banking Committee, Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.).

CUNA and the leagues also hosted an open house at Credit Union House, open throughout the day to all credit union folks in town for the Capitol Hill events.

After today's bustle, organizational resolutions and other official business will likely be the only actions taken by the 113th Congress this week. The House and Senate are expected to be out of session next week. Both chambers are expected to return to work following the inauguration of President Barack Obama on Jan. 21.

There are 14 new senators and 84 new House members in the new Congress. Some of the newly elected members of Congress incorporated increasing credit union member business lending (MBL) authority and other key credit union issues into their campaign platforms. Overall, CUNA supported 388 candidates for the House and Senate in November's election, and in 96% of those races the credit union-friendly candidates won.
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Comment on BSA definition changes sought by CUNA

WASHINGTON (1/4/13)--The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) is asking credit unions to detail any concerns they may have regarding proposed changes to the definitions of "funds transfer" and "transmittal of funds" under the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA).

The Federal Reserve Board and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) proposed the definition changes last November. The new definitions are intended to maintain the current scope of the terms in light of changes to the Electronic Fund Transfer Act that otherwise would result in certain currently covered transactions being excluded from BSA requirements.

In its Comment Call, CUNA asks credit unions to share their views by Jan. 14. Comments are due to the agencies by Jan. 25.

Use the resource link to access the CUNA Comment Call.

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Inside Washington

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CUs' financial performance a mixed bag for November

MADISON, Wis. (1/3/13)--"Credit union financial performance results were a mixed bag in November as earnings increased but loan growth waned," said Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Senior Economist Steve Rick.
 
Rick was commenting on statistics released Thursday in CUNA's Monthly Credit Union Estimates report.

"Credit unions reported annualized earnings as a percent of assets (return on assets) of 93 basis points in November, higher than the 81 basis points reported over the last 12 months," Rick told News Now.

Click to view larger image Click for larger view
"But credit union loan balances fell 0.03% in November, down from last November's pace of a 0.7% increase.
 
"Falling consumer confidence as a result of the fiscal cliff uncertainty kept many potential borrowers and spenders on the sidelines," he said.
 
What does this mean for credit unions? Rick says to "expect faster loan growth in 2013 (5%) now that households have more certainty regarding their tax bill because of the recent passage of the fiscal cliff legislation. Moreover, the fiscal resolution has led to surging stock prices which in turn could produce a "wealth effect" as consumers increase borrowing and spending and decrease savings.
 
Credit union assets surged 1.3%  in November because the month ended on a payroll Friday, he said.

"The growth in assets outpaced capital growth, reducing credit unions' average capital-to-asset ratio to 10.4%.  This is roughly where the ratio was one year earlier.  So it appears credit unions are managing their year-over-year asset growth with their growth in capital," Rick said.
 
Click to view larger image Click for larger view
In November, credit union loans outstanding totaled $610 billion, up from $584.3 billion in November 2011.

Loans for this past November fell by less than 0.1% from October's 0.4% growth. Unsecured personal loans increased 1.6% over October. New auto loans grew 0.8%, credit card loans grew 0.7% and adjustable-rate mortgages grew 0.2%. Used-auto loans slipped  less than 0.1%. Credit unions' home equity  loans were down 0.5% and fixed-rate mortgages dropped 1.4%.
 
Savings at credit unions totaled $899.2 billion, up from $836.1 billion a year earlier.

In November, their savings balances grew 1.3%, compared with 0.1% decrease in October. Share drafts led savings growth with a 7.4% increase, while regular shares grew 1.1%. One-year certificates and money market accounts grew 0.3%. Individual retirement accounts were down 0.1%.
 
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GoBankingRates: CUs outshine banks on rates study

NEW YORK (1/4/13)--Credit unions have the best savings account interest rates in the nation for 2012, according to a study of savings accounts at more than 4,000 banks and credit unions.  Eight of the Top 10 U.S. Savings Account Rates were held by credit unions. That's no surprise to the Credit Union National Association (CUNA).

"Differences in structure are key," said Mike Schenk, CUNA's vice president of economics and statistics. "Credit unions are owned by their member-depositors so credit union profits go directly back to those members in the form of higher deposit yields, lower loan interest rates, and fewer and lower fees," he told News Now.
 
"Banks, in contrast," he added, "are owned by shareholders who demand a market rate of return on their stock investments. In 2011 U.S. banking institutions paid $78 billion in cash dividends to these stockholders, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.--monies that could have been used to provide consumers with a better deal if banks were structured like credit unions."
 
The research was conducted by GoBankingRates.com. It noted the national average savings account rate in the U.S. is 0.21% annual percentage yield.
 
TwinStar CU in Olympia, Wash., had the No. 1 spot in the study with 1.6%.
 
Other credit unions in the Top 10 were:

The only two banks on the list were Salem (Mass.) Five Direct, with 1.25%, and Biscayne Bank, Miami, Fla., with, 1%.
 
Credit unions also dominated in the reviews of top U.S. certificate of deposit (CD) rates in the nation in three categories: a six-month term, a one-year term, and a two-year term. Metropolitan Service CU, Philadelphia, topped all three lists with 1.47% for the six-month CD, 1.86% for the one-year CD, and 2.32% for the two-year CD.
 
Seven credit unions were listed in the top 10 for the six-month CD; the eight top spots for the one-year term CD were held by credit unions, and nine spots for the two-year CD were claimed by credit unions.
 
For the full report and rankings, use the resource link.
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MBL supported in Banker and Trademan editorial, NPR podcast, Va. radio

MADISON, Wis. (1/4/13)--The Credit Union National Association (CUNA)-backed legislation to raise credit unions' member business lending (MBL) cap received airing and support in a Banker and Trademan editorial, a National Public Radio (NPR) podcast in Connecticut, and a radio station  in Virginia Thursday.
 
WNPR, the NPR affiliate in Connecticut, featured Brian Orenstein, CEO of Groton, Conn.-based Charter Oak FCU, and Tony Emerson, CEO of the Credit Union League of Connecticut. They expressed the need for congressional action on raising the MBL cap to allow for much-needed small business lending that will provide a positive boost in the local as well as the nation's economy.
 
Charter Oak FCU will "only have about three or four more years of business lending to do" before hitting the cap, said Orenstein.  "So when you look at a strategic plan, it's hard to build resources like people, experienced lenders who look at quality and also have the relationships.  After five years, we would almost have to stop doing that business, and what do you say to our business lending people, what do you say in your strategic planning?"
 
Orenstein and Emerson noted that seeking credit union charter enhancements such raising the MBL to 27.5% of assets and supplemental capital authority will be priorities for CUNA and the leagues in 2013.
 
The article also noted that the banking lobby is standing in the way, and credit unions are "locked in a longstanding and occasionally bizarre struggle with the banks over the legislation."
 
Other media reports:

To access the full reports, use the links.
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News Now's Top 20 most-requested stories for 2012

MADISON, Wis. (1/4/13)--An article about Financial Partners CU's agreement to provide surcharge-free ATM access at all Walgreens in California was the most-requested News Now story of 2012.
 
Rounding out the top five stories were three articles related to security issues and an article noting credit unions' reputation.
 
The Top 20 stories of 2012 included:
 
20. NCUA names risks as 2012 supervisory priority
 
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (1/5/12)--While pointing out in its first letter to credit unions of the year (12-CU-01) that credit union finances continue to improve, the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) also provided credit unions with a heads up on the risk issues it will be particularly tracking this year.
 
19. Survey shows continuing growth in CU reputation
 
WASHINGTON (2/23/12)--Credit unions outshone banks in consumers' perceptions of safety and soundness with 40% of respondents to a recent poll saying they believe credit unions are the safest financial institutions, compared to 34% naming banks. Nineteen percent of respondents said they trusted both types of institutions equally.
 
18. Gov. signs Calif. homeowner bill of rights
 
LOS ANGELES (7/13/12)--California Gov. Jerry Brown Wednesday signed the "Homeowner Bill of Rights" into law in Los Angeles. The bill will go into effect Jan. 1. Credit unions will be impacted by the legislation, which is the first of its kind in the U.S.
 
17. Compliance: Three questions CEOs should ask staff

WASHINGTON (3/9/12)--The Credit Union National Association's (CUNA) Comp Blog has released its latest compliance wrap-up, a monthly CompBlog feature that, in part, suggests important questions that credit union CEOs should be asking members of their staff.
 
16. New customer rankings: CUs only FI rated excellent
 
WABAN, Mass. (2/24/12)--Credit unions were the only financial institutions to receive "excellent" ratings in the Temkin Experience Ratings, which ranks the customer service across 18 industries. Credit unions ranked third across all industries.
 
15. Man deposits 20 years' worth of coins at CU
 
HERNDON, Va. (6/12/12)--George Shoemaker, a member of Northwest FCU, Herndon, Va., is proof that saving pocket change can pay off.
 
14. NCUA approves Corporate One/Southeast Corp. merger
 
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (2/17/12)--Corporate One FCU, Columbus, Ohio, and Southeast Corporate FCU, Tallahassee, Fla., have been officially approved to merge their operations by the National Credit Union Administration.
 
13. CUNA seeks CU info in massive breach
 
WASHINGTON (4/2/12)--The Credit Union National Association (CUNA)  is seeking specific credit union information from Visa and MasterCard in the wake of the disclosure Friday that the companies are notifying card-issuing credit unions and banks of a massive data breach at a third-party payments processor, Atlanta-based Global Payments Inc.
 
12. Trust in big banks collapses, CUs see largest gain
 
CHICAGO (7/25/12)--Only 21% of Americans surveyed trust the financial system, the lowest point on record since March 2009, according to the most recent Chicago Booth/Kellogg School Financial Trust Index. However, trust in credit unions increased, rising to 63% from 58%.
 
11. NCUA clarifies new call report questions' intent
 
WASHINGTON (1/11/12)--The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) has clarified that new questions addressing minority credit unions and workplace diversity, which were added to fourth quarter call report documents with no explanation from the agency as to why, are required by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act.
 
10. CU reps among CFPB consumer advisory board members
 
WASHINGTON (9/12/12, updated 1:10 p.m. ET)--Two credit union representatives are among the 25 consumer experts from outside the federal government that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has appointed to form its new Consumer Advisory Board (CAB), which will provide advice to CFPB leadership on a consumer financial issues and emerging market trends.
 
9. Settlement could bring a $50 million cost for CUs
 
WASHINGTON (7/16/12)--Reduced credit card interchange rate fees--mandated as a result of an historic lawsuit settlement between merchants and credit card companies--could cost credit unions with credit card programs up to a total of $50 million, according to estimates by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA).
 
8. Judge throws out ATM notice lawsuit vs. PSECU
 
HARRISBURG, Pa. (4/6/12)--A federal judge in Harrisburg, Pa., has dismissed a lawsuit that had alleged a credit union violated the Electronic Funds Transfer Act (EFT) with improper ATM fee notification, saying in his ruling that the credit union showed undisputed evidence that an unknown third party had removed its posted notice illegally.
 
7. CUs on a roll as 'best of the best'
 
MADISON, Wis. (3/27/12)--Communities across the nation continue to recognize credit unions as the best of the best in a variety of areas.
 
6. CNN Money: CUs are best borrowing alternative
 
NEW YORK (1/17/12)--Credit unions are the best borrowing alternative for consumers who are fed up with big U.S. banks, according to a Friday CNNMoney article.
 
5. Mobile banking security tops 10 security threats for 2012
 
MADISON, Wis. (1/10/12)--While credit unions gear up for what may be radical growth in mobile banking, they also must keep in mind that mobile security is the No. 1 security issue in the list of top 10 computer security threats for 2012, according to McAfee Labs.
 
4. CUNA confirms Visa, MasterCard notifying CUs, banks of breach
 
WASHINGTON (Updated: 6:50 p.m. ET 3/30/12)--The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) has confirmed that Visa and MasterCard are notifying card-issuing credit unions and banks of a possible massive data breach involving Atlanta-based Global Payments Inc., a third-party payment processor.
 
3. CUs have best reputation of any sector--survey

DENVER (5/14/12)--Credit unions were rated No. 1 in a new survey in which 5,000 consumers were asked to rate the reputation of 34 business sectors.
 
2. Top 25 stolen passwords for 2011 announced
 
LOS GATOS, Calif. (1/6/12)--What was the most stolen online password of 2011? "Password." Computer users who think switching the "o" to a zero to make it "passw0rd" didn't fare much better. Both are on the list of the 25 most common passwords used on the Internet this year, according to SplashData, a provider of password management applications.

1. CU, Walgreens sign pact for surcharge-free ATMs
 
DOWNEY, Calif. (1/24/12)--Financial Partners CU (FPCU) in Downey, Calif., said it has introduced several new technological features and services to better serve its members, including a recently signed agreement to provide surcharge-free ATM access at all Walgreens in California.

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Experian: CUs made up 12.4% of new-auto loans

MADISON, Wis. (1/4/13)--Credit unions accounted for 12.4% of new-vehicle loans in the third quarter, an increase from 10.5% in same period last year, said Experian Automotive.
 
It was the fourth consecutive quarter of market share gains for credit unions (Automotive News Jan. 2)
 
Credit Union Direct Lending (CUDL) Ontario, Calif., passed one million new and used cars and trucks in the dealer inventory listed on its site. That is an increase of more than 50% from a year earlier. CUDL increased its dealerships by 1,000 to 7,000 during 2012, said Phil Maniaci, senior vice president of CUDL Automotive.  
 
Bill Paschen, finance director for Jim Click Auto Group, Tucson, Ariz., told Automotive News he values the relative small size and local focus of credit unions. Credit unions also can be more flexible on loans, Paschen said.
 
Also, members are loyal to their credit unions, said Ralph Larson, finance and insurance director for Dick Hannah Dealerships in Vancouver, Wash. When a member's credit union found out the member was financing a car with someone else, it would often beat the offer. So, Larson started a policy of giving the credit union that financed the member's trade-in the chance to match other offers.

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Crashing the GAC? Applications due Jan. 10

MADISON, Wis. (1/4/13)--Registration for the 2013 Crash the GAC—a group of young credit union leaders who will attend the Credit Union National Association's (CUNA) Government Affairs Conference (GAC)--is due Jan. 10.
 
The CUNA GAC will be held Feb. 24-28 in Washington D.C.
 
The 2013 Crash the GAC, which receives scholarships to attend from CUNA, celebrates its fourth year at the conference.
 
This year's Crash will coincide with the regular conference agenda established by CUNA (including scholarships for registration). However, it also will include a half-day design thinking workshop that focuses on member business lending.
 
Design thinking is a process that uses human-centered research, pattern recognition, and prototyping to solve problems.
 
As a part of the workshop, Crashers will research the needs of young small-business owners through live interviews and observation of Washington D.C. metroplex entrepreneurs.

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CU System briefs

 
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Fed bond buying may end before year is over: FOMC minutes

WASHINGTON (1/4/13)--How long the Federal Reserve will continue its bond buying programs was discussed during the Dec. 11-12 meeting of its monetary policymaking body, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC).
 
The committee is divided on the actual timeline, but most of its members indicated that the program likely would be warranted until about the end of the year, said the FOMC minutes for the meeting. The minutes were released by the Fed Thursday afternoon.

"In considering the outlook for the labor market and the broader economy, a few members expressed the view that ongoing asset purchases would likely be warranted until about the end of 2013, while a few others emphasized the need for considerable policy accommodation but did not state a specific time frame or total for purchases," said the minutes.
 
Several others, said the document, "thought that it would probably be appropriate to slow or to stop purchases well before the end of 2013, citing concerns about financial stability or the size of the balance sheet. One member viewed any additional purchases as unwarranted."
 
The minutes also indicated that officials believed the program so far had been "effective and supportive of growth," but that "they also generally saw that the benefits of ongoing purchases were uncertain and that the potential costs could rise as the size of the [Fed's] balance sheet increased."
 
The asset buying program includes purchasing $40 billion a month in mortgage backed securities and $45 billion a month of longer-term Treasury securities to add to the Fed's asset portfolio, said the minutes. The FOMC also maintained its existing policy of reinvesting principal payments from its holdings of agency debt and agency MBS into agency MBS, and decided to resume in January rolling over maturing Treasury securities at auction.

For the full report, use the resource link.

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Market News

MADISON, Wis. (1/4/13)

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News of the Competition

MADISON, Wis. (1/4/13)

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H&FF Radio covers smart upkeep strategies for consumers

WASHINGTON (1/4/13)--Guests on this past Sunday's Home & Family Finance Radio program discussed tactics for dressing for less, tips for protecting your housing investment, and safe check writing.
 
The show, which you also can hear later via the Internet, is moderated each week by Paul Berry, Washington, D.C., journalist and broadcaster. Features on this week's show inlcude:

Home & Family Finance is a resource center for personal finance information at CUNA. The radio show is sponsored by CO-OP Network, the national credit union ATM network; Cabot Creamery Cooperative, maker of award-winning cheddar; and the Defense Credit Union Council and member credit unions, serving those who serve the country worldwide.
 
Home & Family Finance airs Sundays at 3 p.m. (ET) on the Radio America Network. The show also is carried on American Forces Radio Network. The one-hour program devoted to consumer finance issues is brought to you by America's credit unions and their 90 million members, and is presented by CO-OP Network.
 
CUNA and Radio America are podcasting Home & Family Finance through iTunes, Podcast Alley, Odeo, and other popular podcast library sites, as well as on Radio America and CUNA's websites.
 
For related information, read "Write Checks Right, or Pay a Price" and "Home Improvement Projects: It's Not About Being 'Handy'" in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.
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Claim saver's tax credit for 2012

WASHINGTON (1/2/13)--If you're a low- or moderate-income worker saving for retirement in a 401(k), an individual retirement account (IRA) , or similar workplace retirement program, you could be eligible to claim a special tax credit of as much as $1,000 for individuals and $2,000 for married couples  (U.S. News & World Report Dec. 20).
 
You can claim this credit in addition to any other tax savings you get for your retirement account contributions.
 
Here are the rules to claim this credit on your 2012 tax return:

Note that you can't take the 2012 credit if you were enrolled as a full-time student during the calendar year or if someone else will claim you a dependent.
 
The saver's credit is highest for retirement savers with the lowest incomes. The credit ranges between 10% and 50% of retirement contributions, with the highest percentage going to savers with the lowest incomes.
 
If you were unaware of this credit, first introduced as a temporary provision in 2002 and made permanent in 2006, you're not alone: Only one of four workers has heard about it.
 
You have until April 15 to make qualifying contributions to a new or existing IRA and get the saver's credit on your 2012 tax return. Follow the instructions on IRS form 8880 to figure the saver's credit correctly and claim it.
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CO-OP opens registration for THINK

RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (1/4/13)--Registration is open for CO-OP Financial Services' THINK 13 conference, to be held April 29-May 2 in Chicago.
 
"Disrupt Business as Usual" is the theme of the conference. 
 
Speakers include:

The early bird registration deadline is Jan. 31.
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