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30- 15-year mortgage rates hold steady Freddie Mac

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WASHINGTON (10/7/11)--Average rates on 30- and 15-year fixed rate mortgages held steady this week and remained near recent all-time lows, Freddie Mac reported. Thirty-year mortgages averaged 4.11% this week, 4.12% last week, and 4.21% this time last year. Fifteen-year mortgages averaged 3.38% this week, 3.37% last week, and 3.64% this time last year. Thirty- and fifteen-year mortgages reached record lows of 3.94 % and 3.26%, respectively, in the first week of October. Freddie Mac Chief Economist Frank Nothaft said the mortgage rate stability was tied to mixed economic reports that were released this week. Five-year Treasury indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) fell during the week, averaging 3.01%. Last week's total was 3.06%. However, one-year Treasury-indexed ARMs increased slightly this week, averaging 2.94%. Those ARMs averaged 2.9% last week. For the full release, use the resource link.

CDRLF final changes on NCUA agenda

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (10/21/11)—A final rule on Community Development Revolving Loan Fund (CDRLF) access for credit unions is one of two items on the agenda of next week’s October National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) board meeting. The NCUA earlier this year released a proposed rule that would change the CDRLF rule's low-income credit union (LICU) designation criteria to use "median family income" in the standard for LICU determination instead of "median household income." The NCUA at that time said that the CDRLF changes would likely increase loan demand "due, in part, to reduced program burdens on participating credit unions, thereby enhancing the provision of basic financial services for low-income households." Overall, the CDRLF changes are meant to improve transparency and ease credit union use of the fund and improve the process through which credit unions may apply for loans and technical assistance grants from the CDRLF. The proposed changes also clarify the application process, and add reporting and monitoring requirements. CUNA in a July comment letter urged the agency to minimize reporting and monitoring burdens on "low-income" credit unions seeking CDRLF assistance by using existing reports whenever possible, and suggested that the NCUA also develop a list of permissible CDRLF loan uses and increase the CDRLF’s maximum loan limit beyond the current limit of $300,000. The monthly insurance fund report will also be presented during the open portion of the board meeting. The closed portion of the NCUA's meeting will feature a merger request and consideration of supervisory activities. For the full NCUA agenda, use the resource link.

FASB should tailor communications with firms conference attendees say

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WASHINGTON (10/21/11)--Attendees of the Financial Accounting Standards Board's (FASB) recent private-company accounting roundtable urged FASB to focus and streamline how it communicates when it issues or amends rules that specifically impact certain types of private businesses. The FASB meeting was held earlier this week in San Francisco, Calif. Patelco CU Chief Financial Officer and Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Accounting Subcommittee Chairman Scott Waite attended the meeting on behalf of CUNA and his credit union. He is also a long-time advisory member of the FASB. Waite said he was “very happy to represent credit unions” at the FASB meeting. He will also attend a November meeting at FASB’s home office in Norwalk, Connecticut. Several participants said that the amount of disclosures provided by FASB can be overwhelming while still others would prefer more use of disclosures rather than apply the accounting treatment. Waite noted that this make setting appropriate standards very challenging to please everyone. During the meeting while discussing ways to filter applicable changes, Waite said one of the reasons that CUNA formed its accounting subcommittee is to filter through FASB proposal and standards and pick out the relevant information for credit unions. The meeting attendees also generally encouraged FASB to improve its communication with the small accounting firms that work with private companies and to give greater consideration to the needs of these small firms. Accounting and disclosure requirements relating to variable interest entities, interest-rate swaps, and Level 3 fair value measurements were also among the items covered during the meeting. The Financial Accounting Foundation earlier this month proposed establishing a new Private Company Standards Improvement Council. FASB in an earlier release said this new group, if approved, would review U.S. GAAP and determine how those standards could be improved to better serve the needs of private companies. The group could then issue modifications, if needed.

Feinstein statement in iCongressional Recordi marks ICU Day

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WASHINGTON (10/21/11)— Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) Wednesday inserted a statement into the Congressional Record to mark “the importance and many achievements of credit unions worldwide in celebration of the 63rd annual International Credit Union Credit Day (ICU Day).” Feinstein said to her Senate colleagues, “I rise today to recognize the importance and many achievements of credit unions worldwide in celebration of the 63rd annual International Credit Union Credit Day.” The Feinstein statement marked the beneficial impact credit unions make both in the United States and on an international scale. She said in this country, that credit unions provide “affordable and safe financial services to many Americans of moderate means has been significant and widely recognized. “The difference credit unions make in the United States by providing affordable and safe financial services to many Americans of moderate means has been significant and widely recognized,” the senator noted in her Senate statement, adding, “However, the contributions credit unions have made on an international scale are equally notable.” She went on to note: Since the mid-1800s, credit unions have established themselves in communities around the world struggling with social dislocation, political unrest and economic depression as a means to promote economic growth and democratic practices at the local level. Today, more than 54,000 credit unions provide financial services to more than 186 million members in 97 nations. Nationally, credit unions provide financial services to more 93 million Americans. Feinstein’s statement also called attention to credit unions are working with the World Council of Credit Unions to “introduce a variety of innovative technology solutions to bank the unbanked in rural areas.” Bob Arnould, senior vice president of government affairs for the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues, took the occasion to thank Feinstein for her support of credit unions and for entering her “comprehensive statement” into the congressional record. Jeremy Empol, director of the leagues’ federal government affairs, added, “As chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Sen. Feinstein is well aware of the role cooperative financial institutions play in countries around the world. Credit unions are grateful for her acknowledgements.” The senator is one of 21 backers of S. 509, the Small Business Lending Enhancement Act introduced in March by Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) to increase the credit union members business lending cap to 27.5% of assets, up from 12.25%. For more on ICU Day celebrations, see related story: A whole lotta CU celebrations going on. Also, use the resource link to read Feinstein's complete statement.

Kutchey to become NCUA deputy executive director

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (10/21/11)--National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) Chairman Debbie Matz today announced the appointment of John Kutchey to become deputy executive director and COO, to succeed Melinda Love when she retires in December. Matz said Kutchey will bring “tremendous understanding of the agency at the headquarters, regional, and field levels.” She also said that his “distinct role” as our chief negotiator with the National Treasury Employees Union makes him the “perfect fit” for the deputy executive director’s job. As deputy executive director, Kutchey will assist the executive director with the day-to-day operation of NCUA to include oversight of its 10 central offices, five regions and the Asset Management and Assistance Center, according to an NCUA release. Kutchey most recently served as the deputy director of the Office of Examination and Insurance (E&I). He has also held positions as E&I’s director of risk management and Region II’s director of supervision, as well as served as a supervisory examiner, a problem case officer and a principal examiner. He also has experience in credit union work.

Inside Washington (10/20/2011)

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* WASHINGTON (10/21/11)--The Federal Reserve Board must step up efforts to avoid possible conflicts of interest that result from how board members at the Fed’s 12 regional banks are selected, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said in a report issued Wednesday. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act required GAO to review the governance of the Federal Reserve following the 2008 financial crisis. While the report found no evidence of wrongdoing, it did find situations that create the appearance of conflicts of interest. “Although directors’ affiliations with financial firms do not necessarily create conflicts of interest, they may complicate the directors’ relationships with the Reserve Banks and increase public scrutiny of them,” the report said. For example the study found 18 former and current directors from nine Reserve Banks who were affiliated with institutions that used at least one federal emergency program … * WASHINGTON (10/21/11)--The Internal Revenue Service today announced cost of living adjustments affecting dollar limitations for pension plans and other retirement-related items for Tax Year 2012. In general, many of the pension plan limitations will change for 2012 because the increase in the cost-of-living index met the statutory thresholds that trigger their adjustment. However, other limitations will remain unchanged …