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Credit unions underscore a positive message seen on billboards across the country: recessions end.
By Alix Patterson
More By Alix Patterson
My husband and I saw an interesting billboard on the way to work this morning. It was one simple message with a notebook paper background saying, “Interesting fact about recessions … they end.”
We debated which political party must be behind the message and why. So, when I got to work, I Googled it and found out it is one of 2,000 billboards across the U.S. that were part of a 2009 campaign funded by an anonymous donor. The East Coast person behind the positive catch phrases, called Recession 101, was “depressed about how the country was reacting to the economy's tailspin” so he wanted to do something to change our mentality, the article said. Other billboards read, “Stop obsessing about the economy, you’re scaring the children,” “Self worth is greater than net worth,” and "Bill Gates started Microsoft in a recession."
I’m not here to start a political debate. My take is that the campaign wants to say, “Don’t just talk, do something.” And I think credit unions are doing something.
Rather than just talking about the problem, credit unions are stepping in to help boost consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of economic activity. Consumer spending dropped in May when adjusted for inflation in a decline many attribute to higher gas prices.
To help ease the pain of high gas prices, Liberty Bay Credit Union ($664M, Braintree, MA) gave away 358 gallons of gas in a one-hour period last weekend, offering a small economic boost to consumer spending through a membership drive. Callahan & Associates' detailed case study of DCU’s 2008 gas giveaway describes another campaign that netted about $318,000 worth of media exposure with a boost to shoppers' wallets. For more alternative strategies from credit unions taking action on gas prices, read Pain at the Pump: 10 Ways to Help Members.
Many economists believe that at least two factors slowing growth—the high gas prices and the slowdown in factory production due to the Japan earthquake —will abate in the second half of the year. Still, rather than waiting, credit unions are making an impact at the local level and getting noticed by their members.
The ailing real estate industry is another example. In 2010 alone, credit unions put 510,000 members into homes with affordable first mortgage loans.
This month’s Callahan Report is devoted to the need for a credit union-organized secondary mortgage market. In it, Barry Stricklin says credit union’s market share is growing because credit unions understand their local markets and are “more intimately in tune” with local real estate conditions than national lenders.
“Credit unions take a more involved and active role in a member’s mortgage,” Stricklin says. “Not only are they more likely to place members in a sustainable loan, they are also more likely to work hard to keep a member in the member’s home in the event of hardship.”
So, by offering small economic boosts like gas giveaways and mortgage assistance, credit unions are helping remind members about the interesting fact about recessions: they end.
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Jun 27, 2011
7/26/2012 04:13 PM
Finally a positive article about the economy/country.Forget the political stuff, focus on making member's lives better.
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