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Fryzel comments on NCUA reg agenda

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CHICAGO, Ill. (9/19/11)--Ensuring the safety and soundness of credit unions should be the “single focus” on the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), board member Michael Fryzel said in a Friday speech to the National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors (NASCUS) State System Summit. The summit was held in Chicago, Illinois. Citing the great Chicago fire as an example, Fryzel said not to wait for a disaster to overhaul regulation. “Instead, take a hard look at present conditions and present regulations.” Fryzel noted the NCUA’s own policy of reviewing one-third of its regulations each year is “reasonable” and “provides a good balance between expending resources to keep the regulations updated and reviewing them too hastily.” “There has been talk in some circles of not creating a new regulation without at the same time eliminating another,” Fryzel said. He added: “A one-for-one mathematical formula sounds pleasing at first but, it uses a butcher’s knife when it is really a scalpel that is called for. Each regulation was created for a purpose. If the environment has changed so that the regulation is not doing its intended work then thoughtful reflection should alter or eliminate it.” The NCUA board member also addressed the Obama Administration’s recent request for federal agencies to design cost-effective, evidence-based regulations, and to increase their own transparency and accountability. Fryzel claimed that the NCUA has been, and is, in compliance with this executive order. He added that the agency would “try to become even more proactive in publicizing what regulations will be considered in any year, the time of year they will be reviewed, and how persons can comment on regulations under review.” The Credit Union National Association has urged the NCUA and other independent agencies to consider the "principles and basic approach to regulation" reflected in Obama’s executive order when reviewing current regulations. For the full Fryzel speech, use the resource link.

Obama signs patent changes into law

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WASHINGTON (9/19/11)--President Barack Obama signed the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (H.R. 1249) into law Friday, and credit unions and other businesses will now be protected from outside claims on some of their specific customer service, payment and marketing practices. These types of patent challenges, which are often brought by non-practicing entities, can become expensive for credit unions and others if they are heard in court. The presidential signing ceremony took place at Alexandria, Virginia’s Thomas Jefferson High School for Science & Technology. Obama was joined by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Reps. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Jim Moran (D-Va.), and Mel Watt (D-N.C.). The White House in a statement said the bipartisan guest list, and the bill signing, “shows that strong bipartisan cooperation is possible” and that “Congress can come together on behalf of the American economy and American innovation.” H.R. 1249 will alter the patent application system by awarding a patent to the first inventor to file a given application. The legislation also provides greater time for the public to provide input on a patent and changes the rules under which an existing patent may be challenged. The Credit Union National Association was one of several trade groups that backed the legislation, and sought senate support ahead of this month’s vote through a letter to members of congress.

Paul Hazen longtime NCBA leader announces resignation

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WASHINGTON (9/19/11)--National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA) President/CEO Paul Hazen announced on Friday that he would soon end his quarter-century tenure at NCBA—twelve years of which have been spent leading of the association—and resign in 2012. Hazen said that after 25 years with NCBA, he believes it is time for the organization to have new leadership. Hazen said in a release that he has enjoyed his work for NCBA and the cooperative movement, and has found the greatest benefit to that work has been getting to know the people of the cooperative movement and their stories. “I have learned that cooperators all over the world -- whether in the U.S., Brazil, or in Zambia -- are all united because of the same cooperative principles and values. That is our greatest strength,” Hazen said. Hazen is expected to leave his position in early 2012, but he will stay on until a replacement is found. The NCBA’s board of directors will lead the search for his replacement. Hazen said he hopes to “remain active in the cooperative movement.” Credit Union National Association (CUNA) President/CEO Bill Cheney said Friday that CUNA “appreciated Paul’s willingness and ability to marshal the larger cooperative community in support of credit unions when needed, whether it was co-op participation in our successful fight to enact the Credit Union Membership Access Act in 1998 or, more recently, our advocacy for legislation to raise the statutory cap that limits credit unions’ small business lending.” “Paul’s passion for co-ops and his belief in the positive benefits they confer on society are an inspiration to us all, and we at CUNA thank him for his service at NCBA and wish him the very best in the next stage of his career,” Cheney added.

Pres. candidate Perry backs MBLs reduced regs in Iowa speech

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DES MOINES, Iowa (9/19/11)--Credit unions that serve small businesses need to be freed up to help revive Main Street, and need to see the member business lending cap raised, Texas Governor and current Republican presidential nomination candidate Rick Perry said on Friday.
Click to view larger imageTexas Governor Rick Perry (left), who is currently a top Republican presidential nomination candidate, is greeted by Iowa Credit Union League (ICUL) President Pat Jury (right) as Perry takes the stage to speak to 250 attendees of the ICUL's 2011 Convention. Perry noted that small business owners are “being strangled” by tight credit as small businesses continue to have a hard time getting credit from large national banks. (ICUL Photo)
The governor’s remarks came as his fellow contender for the Republican nomination, Mitt Romney, discussed MBLs with a credit union leader at an Arizona business roundtable. Perry spoke before 250 attendees of the Iowa Credit Union League’s 2011 Convention. In his remarks, Perry noted that business owners are “being strangled” by tight credit as small businesses continue to have a hard time getting credit from large national banks. Perry also addressed his support of credit unions in his home state, noting that Texas credit unions “generate three-quarters of a billion dollars in salaries, employ 18,000 workers and provide billions of dollars in capital for families and businesses.” Protecting credit unions’ tax status is vital to “protecting their important economic investments,” Perry added. The governor also said he supports and end to financial “overregulation.” “Do we need protections? Yes. But overregulation has to end,” he said, adding that repeal of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act is high on his list of priorities. Iowa Credit Union League President/CEO Patrick Jury said the league was “very pleased to hear Governor Perry's support for raising the member business lending cap,” and added that MBL cap lift legislation “is a common sense solution that should be advanced by this Congress. “Hopefully, the attention provided to the issue by Governor Perry today will aid in growing bi-partisan support for the issue,” he added. Another Republican presidential contender, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, recently said he would look into the MBL issue himself. The Arizona Credit Union League reported that Romney discussed the MBL issue with Vantage West CU President/CEO Bob Ramirez at a local business roundtable held last week in Tucson, Ariz. The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) has estimated that lifting the 12.25% of assets cap on credit union member business lending to 27.5% of assets would inject $13 billion in new funds into the economy, creating 140,000 new jobs in the first year after enactment. House and Senate bills that would lift the cap remain active, and CUNA and legislators have urged President Barack Obama to include an MBL cap lift in his job creation plans.

Inside Washington (09/16/2011)

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* WASHINGTON (9/19/11)--Only four of the 11 largest U.S mortgage servicers are on track to achieve an “at least median performance” for the first half of the year, according to a new ranking system from Fannie Mae (American Banker Sept. 16). Fannie’s Servicer Total Achievement and Rewards (STAR) Program measures the performance of servicers in helping homeowners avoid foreclosure. Fannie did not identify the underperforming servicers. It provided a list of “peer groups,” listing the servicers it assessed in each category. “The STAR program helps us evaluate and hold servicers accountable for measurable, consistent results in preventing foreclosure,” said Leslie Peeler, Fannie Mae’s vice president for servicer portfolio management. “Servicers who achieve the highest ratings are leading the way in providing assistance to homeowners who are having difficulty making their mortgage payments” … * WASHINGTON (9/19/11)--The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) will be fair but tough-minded in assessing practices harmful to consumers, an agency spokesman said Thursday (American Banker Sept. 16). The agency will take the necessary action to end unjustified practices, Raj Date, the special adviser to the secretary of the treasury for the CFPB told a group of bankers and consumer advocates in Philadelphia. The CFPB organized the event to mark the anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the start of the financial crisis. Date discussed the lessons learned from the mortgage market meltdown and how those lessons can be applied to the consumer bureau’s work moving forward. Date specifically cited financial products that are outside the traditional banking sector and are targeted at consumers who have a short-term need for cash. The CFPB will ensure that such short-term credit is “fair, transparent and competitive,” Date said … * WASHINGTON (9/19/11)--The Federal Reserve would not stop a proposed merger only because it presents an increased risk to the financial system, Fed Gov. Dan Tarullo said Thursday (American Banker Sept. 16). “It is important to note that, while Congress instructed us to consider the extent to which a proposed acquisition would pose a greater risk to financial stability, it clearly did not instruct us to reject an acquisition simply because there would be any increase in such risks,” Tarullo said in a speech at a Fed conference on systemic risk. Tuesday the Fed will hold first of three hearings on Capital One Financial Corp.’s proposed $9 billion acquisition of ING Direct USA. The proposed deal, under review by the Fed, has been criticized by community groups and affordable housing advocates, who argue that it would create another too-big-to-fail financial institution … * WASHINGTON (9/19/11)--More than a dozen credit union advocates from North Carolina made their fall Hike the Hill trip to Washington, D.C., recently. The trip featured meetings with staff at the newly opened Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), followed by visits with elected representatives. After brief welcoming remarks from Elizabeth Vale, who heads up the bureau’s Office of Community Banks and Credit Unions, the North Carolina visitors met with three CFPB staffers. “The CFPB representatives expressed sensitivity to the challenges of the regulatory process for financial institutions,” said Dan Schile, North Carolina Credit Union League senior vice president of association services. “One of their key objectives is to make forms and disclosures as simple as possible for credit unions to fill out and for their members to understand.” The trip concluded Thursday with meetings on the Hill. The focal point of the meetings was the ongoing member business lending (MBL) efforts, which may get a boost from President Obama’s recently announced job creation package. The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and credit unions are pressing Congress to increase credit unions’ MBL cap to 27.5% of assets from 12.25%. Doing so would open up more opportunity to offer MBLs, inject $13 billion in loans into the economy and create as many as 140,000 new jobs, with no cost to taxpayers, CUNA said. (Photo provided by North Carolina Credit Union League) …