A downgrade of the United States' credit rating is tough news to handle, but a cooperative commitment to recovery softens the blow.
To call the downgrade of the United States' credit rating an elephant in the room is not accurate. It’s more like a T. Rex shoved into a shoe box. Standard and Poor’s kicked the U.S.’s rating down a notch to AA+ from AAA, resulting in significant economic stress around the world.
At the closing bell on Monday, Bank of America’s stock price was down 20%. Citigroup was down more than 16%.
But you know me, I’m always looking for the good news. And guess what? Today, I don't have to look very far. The "credit rating" of credit unions isn't determined by Standard & Poor's, or Moody's, or any other credit rating agency for that matter. It is determined by our members, and our members were not downgraded on Friday. In fact, according to the latest jobs report, the economy added 117,000 jobs in July, which is a solid rebound from the past few uninspiring months.
Standard & Poor's downgraded the United States; it happened. Now what? As cooperatives, credit unions are member-owned. They rise and fall on the success and financial soundness of their members. They achieve a higher credit standing when their members achieve a higher credit standing. Now is the time to communicate this credit union difference.
Credit unions are very much in control of the only thing that matters: Their actions. Credit unions are a countercyclical economic force, and their ability to act as such is once again critical to America’s recovery. A leading source of local job growth? That's credit unions. A provider of credit during difficult times? You betcha. Sure credit unions are subject to market competition, but they can take the long view in financial planning and performance. Financial institutions that are subject to market forces such as the stock market and investors simply don't have that luxury. It's an advantage credit unions should be shouting about from the rooftops.
Times are difficult for members, but credit unions are here to help alleviate stress. Now is the time to get out in the community and calm the waters. Find solutions and communicate the credit union difference to members. They will remember you for what you do now more than for what you do when times are good.