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Inside Washington (11/23/2009)

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* WASHINGTON (11/24/09)--The House Financial Services subcommittee on oversight and investigations announced yesterday that it will conduct a field hearing next week on “Improving Responsible Lending to Small Businesses.” The Nov. 30 hearing will be held at Lawrence Technological University, in Southfield, Mich., and the subcommittee will hear from local business leaders, representatives of depository institutions, and government officials on the status of prudent lending to small and mid-sized businesses, while maintaining financial stability… * WASHINGTON (11/24/09)--Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke’s renomination hearing before the Senate Banking Committee will be Dec. 3. Bernanke has been nominated by President Barack Obama to lead the Fed for another four years. The Senate is expected to approve his nomination, but Bernanke likely faces tough questions (American Banker Nov. 23). Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) has said he has held “serious differences” with the Fed ... * WASHINGTON (11/24/09)--Financial regulatory reform seems to have backpedaled, according to industry observers. Last week, a House panel vote on legislation that would give the government power over systemically significant institutions was delayed until after Thanksgiving. House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) said the delay--which was caused by a request regarding the economy fromt he Congressional Black Caucus--wouldn’t compromise the package since it wasn’t scheduled to go onto the House floor until December. Also, an amendment that could compromise the Federal Reserve Board’s independence was attached to Frank’s legislation. Frank opposed the amendment, and said he would readdress the issue. In the Senate, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) stepped back from his timetable to pass a reform bill after panel members expressed their concerns about his legislation, saying he should work on a bipartisan approach. Dodd’s bill still needs a lot of work, according to Jaret Seiberg, Washington Research Group analyst. He noted that Dodd may have to negotiate and create a “narrow” reform package (American Banker Nov. 23) ...

Corporate CU guarantee program gets another extension

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (11/24/09)—The Temporary Corporate Credit Union Share Guarantee Program (TCCUSGP) has received another extension from its parent agency, the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). The agency is pushing the expiration date past the current sunset of Dec. 31, 2011 to let the program run until March 31, 2012. The Dec. 31, 2011 date was itself an extension. The NCUA announced in August that TCCUSGP would not be allowed to expire on the scheduled Sept. 31, 2011 date. The TCCUSGP backs up the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund's (NCUSIF) coverage of all shares--excluding paid-in-capital and membership capital accounts--at corporate credit unions. More technically, the NCUA's Corporatee Stabilization Fund is obligated for any liability arising from the Temporary Corporate Credit Union Share Guarantee Program ("TCCUSGP") and from the TCCULGP. To the extent that any liability from the TCCUSGP or TCCULGP exceeds funds available from the Stabilization Fund, funds shall be made available from the NCUSIF. Use the resource link below to read the NCUA's Juner Letter to Credit Unions on "Corporate Stabilization Fund Implementation."

Media turn out for CUNA holiday poll

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WASHINGTON (11/24/09)—More than 15 national, international, and local media outlets covered the tenth annual projection of consumers' holiday spending plans produced by a national survey sponsored by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and Consumer Federation of America (CFA). CUNA and CFA also used the
Click to view larger image Sabri Benachour of National Public Radio follows up with CUNA's Bill Hampel about the meaning of the results in the CUNA/CFA holiday spending survey. (CUNA Photo)
opportunity to provide consumers with tips to help keep holiday spending debt under control. The event was held Monday at The National Press Club in Washington, D.C. CUNA Chief Economist Bill Hampel discussed the survey, estimating that consumer spending during the upcoming holidays could increase by as much as 3%. Only 8% of consumers surveyed said that they would spend more this year than the previous year, Hampel said. The Wall Street Journal provided quick coverage of the event, reporting that 43% of consumers surveyed would significantly reduce their holiday spending from the previous years budget. To read the Wall Street Journal story, use the resource link. Other television, cable and radio networks, and newspaper groups that attended or covered the press conference included:
Click to view larger image News camera crews prepare their equipment before the holiday spending press conference begins. More than a dozen major news outlets covered the tenth annual release of CUNA-CFA consumer spending predictions. (CUNA Photo)
* CNN * Fox News * WAMU, a D.C.-based affiliate of National Public Radio * CNBC * CBS * The Epoch Times * Japan Broadcasting Corporation * Credit Union Times * ABC Radio News * American Observer * Market News International * AM Media * Business News Americas * Hearst Television * WUSA, a D.C.-based CBS affiliate
CBS Radio also interviewed Hampel later in the day. For more on the CUNA-CFA predictions and to read the groups’ consumer tips to help keep holiday spending debt under control, see related story in today's News Now: CUNA-CFA: Consumer holiday spending to improve from last year.

CUNA-CFA Consumer holiday spending will improve over 2008

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WASHINGTON (11/24/09)--Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Chief Economist Bill Hampel has predicted that consumer spending during the upcoming holidays could increase by as much as 3% compared to 2008’s numbers.
Click to view larger image As Consumer Federation of America Executive Director Steve Brobeck listens, CUNA Chief Economist Bill Hampel explains the results of the CUNA/CFA Holiday Spending Survey. (CUNA Photo)
Speaking during a press conference announcing the tenth yearly holiday spending survey conducted by the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) and the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), Hampel said that 43% of consumers surveyed this year said they intend to cut back their holiday spending, compared to 55% last year. “Consumers are telling us they will not cut back as much on spending as last year, but more so than in previous years,” Hampel said, adding that 8% of consumers surveyed “planned to spend more than last year,” the lowest percentage in the ten year history of the survey. The survey, which was conducted between November 6 and 9 and collected comments from 1,000 respondents, indicated that economic concerns are tops for reserved consumers, with widespread fear over unemployment, limited work hours, or current pay affecting their attitude toward spending. While 44% of those surveyed said their economic situation was similar to that of last year, 36% of consumers said their situation was worse, with only 19% of respondents saying that they were better off than they were last year. A mere 24% of those surveyed said they were concerned about meeting monthly credit card payments this year and only 42% said they were concerned about meeting all debt payments this year, and both figures represented a decrease from last years report. While many of those surveyed are still concerned about their financial condition, CFA Executive Director Stephen Brobeck said “it is good news that fewer people are concerned about meeting monthly debt payments this year than last.” CUNA and CFA have also suggested that consumers can keep their individual levels of holiday debt under control by sticking to a predetermined budget for gifts, holiday foods, party clothes, holiday decor and postage. Consumers will also benefit financially from comparison shopping and paying with cash or lower-interest credit union cards. Consumers can also plan for future holidays by shopping post-holiday sales for next years’ gifts and starting a holiday savings account that they will contribute to over the course of the year, or take the novel approach of curbing spending through low- or no-cost ways to celebrate the holidays, Brobeck suggested. Over 15 national and local media outlets covered Monday's release of the consumer holiday spending projections. (See related story in today's News Now: International, national, and local news outlets cover CUNA holiday spending survey.)