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Pres. Obama officially declares fin lit month

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WASHINGTON (4/6/10)--President Barack Obama late last week officially announced the beginning of financial literacy month, calling on Americans to “take time to improve our own financial knowledge and share that knowledge with our children.” Obama said that America’s “future prosperity depends on the financial security of all Americans,” adding that improving financial education “can prevent another crisis and rebuild our economy on a stronger, more balanced foundation.” “While our government has a critical role to play in protecting consumers and promoting financial literacy, we are each responsible for understanding basic concepts: how to balance a checkbook, save for a child's education, steer clear of deceptive financial products and practices, plan for retirement, and avoid accumulating excessive debts,” Obama added. Addressing the government’s role in financial literacy, Obama promoted the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency, and lauded the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009’s role in “reining in” some “deceptive” financial tactics. Credit unions nationwide are joining in the financial literacy celebration by participating in National Credit Union Youth Week, April 18-24, and the Credit Union National Association sponsors the National Youth Saving Challenge during the entire month to help youth younger than age 18 develop good savings habits. This program has helped young prospective credit union members save $26.5 million in deposits. For more on financial literacy, check CUNA's website (finlit.org) and use the resource links below.

SBA offers money management webinars

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WASHINGTON (4/6/10)--The U.S. Small Business Administration this month will host a series of webinars to teach “basic money management and financial skills for today’s business world” and “highlight the importance of financial education and the opportunity to learn practical money skills and financial wellness.” The webinars, which will take place on April 7, 14 and 21, at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. E.T. and will feature input from officials from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Department of Health and Human Services, among others. For access and more information related to the webinar, use the resource links.

CUNA groups tackle FOM merger issues this week

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WASHINGTON (4/6/10)--WASHINGTON (4/6/10)--The Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA) recently formed mergers and field-of-membership (FOM) working groups will hold meetings this Wednesday. While CUNA has been addressing these issues for some time, the association is developing specific recommendations in these areas that the working groups will help formulate. The working groups are comprised of members of existing CUNA committees and subcommittees. The CUNA FOM working group, headed by Truliant FCU CEO Marc Schaefer, is concerned that some credit unions are asking whether or not the proposed field-of-membership changes from the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) may discourage credit unions from seeking community charters or expanding their areas. The task force is considering recommending amendments to NCUA that will provide more leeway for applications involving multiple political jurisdictions and rural districts. The NCUA's FOM proposal sets objective and quantifiable criteria to determine the existence of a well-defined local community for areas that encompass multiple group areas. A new, objective definition for rural districts has also been proposed. The comment period for the field-of-membership rules ends on April 15. NCUA is also currently considering its supervisory merger processes, and the CUNA merger working group, headed by Ohio CU League President Paul Mercer, intends to provide its input to NCUA in early May. The merger working group's discussions will focus on identifying the key concerns and issues that credit union and regulator stakeholders have concerning the current supervisory merger process and will offer concrete approaches that address and balance those concerns. The next call will focus on issues relating to emergency mergers. The working group invites comment on credit union concerns and will examine statistical information related to emergency mergers later in the month. Following the completion of its report on emergency mergers, the merger group will turn to the NCUA's proposal regarding bank-related mergers and conversions, with comments due to NCUA scheduled for May 28.

Congress to see busy seven-week session

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WASHINGTON (4/6/10)—While the halls of the U.S. Congress remain relatively quiet this week as members of the House and Senate continue their spring recess, the seven weeks that follow their return next week may be some of the busiest weeks of 2010. In the Senate, financial regulatory reform will return to the fore, with the potential for a full vote on the Senate floor possibly as early as April 26. The Senate Committee on Agriculture will also hold its own markup on derivatives legislation in mid-April, and Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) recently predicted that comprehensive regulatory reform would be signed by President Obama by Memorial Day. A number of items that were pushed to the back burner of House committees by the recently completed healthcare and regulatory reform debates, including potential changes to the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), will be both taken up in committee sessions and, perhaps, taken up for votes in the near future. Credit unions and other financial institutions on June 1 will be forced to establish and implement policies and procedures to identify and block restricted Internet gambling transactions, or rely on those procedures established by the payments system, if UIGEA is not addressed by the Congress.

Inside Washington (04/05/2010)

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* WASHINGTON (4/6/10)--The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) is changing the way that it handles failed bank assets (American Banker April 5). To date, its resolutions have involved selling the bank’s assets and deposits to another bank and covering the remaining losses. However, financial observers said the agency is trying new ways to deal with losses. The FDIC has partnered with investors to sell assets after a failure and made agreements--126 since the start of 2009--that force the FDIC to cover 80% of a buyer’s losses up to a stated amount, and 95% beyond the threshold. However, on March 26, the agency said it was dropping the 95% coverage. The move didn’t have much impact, but Kip Weissman, partner at Luse Gorman Pomerenk and Schick, said it shows the agency is moving toward customized transactions instead of a “one size fits all” solution. Michael Krimminger, deputy to the chairman for policy at FDIC, told Banker that the FDIC wants to explore all different transaction structures. The agency also indicated that it will plan to make assets in receivership available to investors through the securitization market, Krimminger said ...