The Business Breakdown

A data release, a merger, and new housing numbers are all the buzz for the week of March 21.


To understate it, there is conflict abroad. Japan is beginning the baby steps of its recovery, and now Libya has drawn international attention for the revolution there.

Both of these developments affect Americans. The global economy is just a giant web, and one broken fiber can lead to weakness in others. Let’s take a look at the business headlines to see the cracks and what credit unions can do to fill them.

  •  The Lenders Are Leaking: The Federal Reserve has been pressed into releasing the names of banks who asked for emergency loans during the financial crisis. The move has met considerable resistance, but now the roster are coming out. The Breakdown: Credit unions can use this news item not to speak poorly but rather to trumpet the lending they did during the crisis. And what they’re doing today: In 4Q10, the cooperative movement originated a record $69B in loans. Toot your horn, but keep working, too.
  • Homes Hit Hardships: Sales of existing homes fell 9.6% in February. The past three months had seen an increase, so the news isn’t particularly good. The result is the classic high supply – low demand quandary. The Breakdown: Cooperatives need to emphasize the buyer’s market that exists. Prices are low, options are plentiful, and home ownership can be a few reasonable steps away. Now’s the time to help members and your bottom line with a redoubled effort in mortgage lending.
  • Merger Mayhem?: Wireless giants AT&T and T-Mobile announced a merger this week. The result will likely be less competition and less favorable arrangements for consumers. The Breakdown: Here is an excellent lesson about the potential negative effects of a merger. Customers are left with increased costs and reduced options. If they’ve formed any attachment to the company that is losing its identity, that can cause some downstream problems for the new business. For some credit unions, a merger can be an excellent decision. Just take time with the decision. Consider the member first.
  • International Inefficiencies: The crisis in Japan has left some businesses around the world waiting for parts and other operational necessities. Others have had to close stores in the disaster area. The earthquake and tsunami were vicious on many fronts. The Breakdown: Credit unions need to understand the international impact of this event. Combine your knowledge of the crisis and your knowledge of the community to identify areas of your local economy that could suffer. Then brainstorm ways to help.



March 22, 2011



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