Thursday, June 28, 2012

Do Three Wrongs Make a Right?

Well, see that CUNA announced a bold, new three-pronged initiative at the America's Credit Union Conference held last week in San Diego.  CUNA is always so earnest in these pronouncements....

Not So Sweet....!!
The three bold, new, inspirational initiatives are: 1) "Keep On Keeping On" with that little failed "tar baby" of a political effort called "biz loans"; 2) work to suppress and "CONTAIN" the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's efforts at reform; and 3) re-new the hallucinatory search for a national CU brand, message, identity.  Definitely a program which has all the freshness of last week's roadkill and the logical consistency of an NCUA "Disney-based" exam.  Why so?

Y'know nothing speaks quite so clearly to the challenges of the third goal - the lack of a national brand, message, identity - as the unspoken, harsh truths underlying the first two goals - biz loans and "Operation CONTAIN".

Fair or not, CUNA has failed politically to convince Congress over the last five years, in the midst of the worst economic contraction of our times, that permitting CUs to make a few more business loans to help Americans get back to work is reasonable. If you can't pass that in this environment....well!? 

And, in reality, the majority of America's credit unions - CUNA's constituency - do not view "biz loans" as the number one issue of importance; perhaps not even in the top ten. If you seriously listen to smaller CUs which are "financially evaporating" at an increasingly alarming rate; "biz loans" are not "The Problem" for the vast majority of credit unions.

CUNA's continuing failure on the "biz loan" issue does leave it with a growing perception of "political inconsequentiality", sliding toward irrelevance....

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Why Won't You Come Out And Play?

Love Me Tender....
For some unknown reason, reported sightings of senior NCUA officials in North Carolina have been less frequent, of late, than sightings of Elvis

Rumors have been rampant that one senior regional official may even have entered the federal government's "witness protection program"!  Can't repeat "in mixed company" some of the identities suggested which this official may have assumed... but use your imagination - maliciously and with no inkling of human kindness - and you'll come pretty close.

But the real gossip-mongers have suggested that the whole flock may have flown and fled to...

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Deer Hunting.....

Where I live in rural North Carolina, hunting is still a basic part of the culture, almost a birthright. "Learning to hunt" is as much a part of growing up as Y-camp basketball, youth soccer, and little league baseball.  Actually, "huntin'" is also considered a sport " 'round 'yhair"!  Deer hunting is the principal game.

Want to play?
Some folks - mainly urban "ex-pats" who have read Bambi too many times - are opposed to hunting. I'm not, except for one thing. Never have thought that hunting should be considered a "sport"; at least not the way I think of a sporting contest.

Always thought of a sport as a contest between equally skilled and capable opponents, vying to determine who had the superior ability. Sport is usually a trial of strength, endurance, agility, quickness, preparation, and intelligence.  That to me ain't hunting - deer hunting in particular....

Monday, June 25, 2012

Just A Little Off The Top Please ...

Well, looks like we're about through with the legal grandstanding by NCUA which has been suing everyone in sight over the failure of five large corporate credit unions (all of which were - just for the record - federally chartered). 

First sued were the corporate executives, then the corporate board members, followed by a few random potshots at various brokerages and investment houses.  Most of the lawsuits have come to naught, other than some token, "just go away" chump change coughed-up by Wall Street.

Even though NCUA has used its "NCUA Breathless Express" ("breathless"in the same sense that Mastercard is "Priceless") to regularly herald a flurry of "prohibitions" against a few former corporate credit union executives; the many case dismissals and the very obvious absence of any "perp walks" is embarrassingly clear. 'Course all these lawsuits end with "sealed settlements", which in the absence of any "perp walks" - affirming illegality, serve to primarily protect the negligence of.... that's right... "you know who"! 

Another "cover up"...
A couple of May 18, 2012 "cease and desist" orders "breathlessly expressed" by NCUA against former corporate credit union leaders Francis Lee and Joe Herbst reveal the sinister underbelly of NCUA in these abusively cynical, bullying lawsuits.  These two "settlements" prohibit these two gentlemen from ever working again in a corporate credit union, but not from working in a natural person credit union.  In other words, these two men were not guilty... period.  But, you can be sure that the "CYA" lawsuits by NCUA cost these two folks dearly in terms of attorney fees, reputation, family and emotional costs.  

Two very clear examples of the retaliation, intimidation, and victimization being perpetrated by a government Agency funded by you.  Do you endorse this?  Do you support this?  Well, you do - as long as you continue to remain silent and docile - like it or not!!

Unfortunately with the "corporate disaster", NCUA has looked everywhere for the guilty except in one place...

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Wear and Tear.....

"Any idiot can face a crisis; it's the day to day living that wears you out."

- Anton Chekhov

Saturday, June 23, 2012

From The Field...

"Congratulations to the branch for leading the Sate in total VITA tax returns this year."

(Yep, everybody had pretty much had their fill by April 17...)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

New SPAM From NCUA - Last Course: "Fruits and Nuts"

"We're full of it!"
Had enough SPAM?  Yeah, me too! Do you feel better now that you know, you got your $2 million "money's worth" out of the NCUA ("not necessarily") SPAM maps program?  Yeah, me too!

'Course, don't forget:  " In future quarters, NCUA's Office of the Chief Economist will build and expand on the information contained in this first NCUA Quarterly U.S. Map Review."

Can hardly wait, right?  Yeah, me too!

Which does leave just one uncomfortable question:   
If your "hard-to-come-by" NCUSIF dollars (at least 59% of every wasted dollar comes from the NCUSIF "overhead transfer rate" - your dollars!) are being spent in this fashion (for "$miles and $PAM"), who is making these decisions? 

Take your pick.... A), B), C), or D) all of the above....

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

New SPAM from NCUA - Fifth Course: "D-Liisted"

"Packed" by federal "inspectors"!
Chomp! Chomp! It's S-h-h-h-nack time again as we continue to look at the new NCUA SPAM maps announced with much 
festive claptrap on June 5th!

Cute and Colorful!
The second round in the "grand series" (actually it's about 2,000 "grand" ($$$$!) per year when "purchased" through this federal Agency) of NCUA SPAM maps features "key" lending data.

The Spin Cycle!

Think it only fair to note that when you get away from the "this just makes us wet our pants" type hype of the "Express"News Release "spun out" by the media mongrels at NCUA and look at the background information, you find this:

"In states with one or two very large CUs, the state average will reflect the performance of the largest CUs."

"State aggregate averages do not necessarily reflect the performance of individual CUs within the state."

Let's see, you can't tell much about individual CUs and you can't be sure about the states....


Which of course leads to the following perplexing question:

Q:  WHY BOTHER???......

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

NCUA "Wrestles" With Utah.....

In the sport of wrestling (we call it "rasslin' in NC), two major moves are the "Nelson" and the "half-Nelson".  Both are positions of strength and pose a threat to the athlete caught by an opponent in such a position.

Utah just put "the move" on NCUA evidently, using a "Stephen Nelson".  (See  - 5/23/12 and - 6/13/12). 

"You dared to say what?!!!"
Actually all Mr. Nelson did was pen a "spoof", a "send-up", a bit of humor, a joke about the current dismal state of the NCUA examination process.  Mr. Nelson "gave voice" to a "silent majority" of credit unions in the U.S.  Evidently NCUA can no longer "take a joke", perhaps because "the joke" comes so increasingly close to the truth.....   

Just for the record, Mr.Nelson is neither off-base nor a lone voice on this issue; but Mr. Fryzel, in a perverse sort of way, is also correct - nobody finds NCUA's continuing indifference, intimidation, and retaliation funny.

Here's a very striking example which confirms that Mr. Nelson knows of "that of which he speaks".....

Monday, June 18, 2012

New SPAM From NCUA - Fourth Course: "Greek Economics"

I'm B-a-acckkkk!
Know you had hoped that these NCUA SPAM "treats" would go away (posts of 6/7, 6/11, 6/14).
But, unfortunately that's not the way it is with "bad and backwards economics", especially "bad and backwards, politically motivated economics"!  Much like Freddy Krueger, backwards economics keeps jumping out of the dark at you when you least expect it!! 

We're not required to explain...!
Bad "political economics" brought us aristocracy, serfdom, national socialism, and communism.  Unanswerable bureaucrats have had a long history of keeping "the earth flat" and some folks always "at the back-of-the-bus" as a matter of "good public policy - and good political economics."

So, let's take a look at an NCUA SPAM map which appears to smack of both bad economics and bad politics........ 

Cute and Colorful !
Hope in the prior "SPAM snacks", you found sufficient evidence to highly question the use of ROA as a principal gauge of the "success" of a not-for-profit CU.  Also took a look at the unreliability of "state geography" as an appropriate "segmentation" or "leading indicator" of the "success", viability, or "risk level" of the credit unions within one state, or of an individual CU within a given state.

But before we proceed further, a reader submitted the following "survey adjectives" for you to rate your view, so far, of the quality of the new NCUA SPAM series.   Please check all which apply:
  • __  Elementary
  • __  Misleading
  • __  Banal                                                  
  • __  Gibberish
  • __  Sophomoric
  • It's all Greek to me....
  • __  Gobbledygook
  • __  Up to NCUA standards!
  • __  "Bovine Scatology"
  • __  Are these guys Greek economists?

But in the meantime remember:

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Haiku For You...


Favorite phrases
Like "this tapestry we've sown."
We reap what we sew?

Saturday, June 16, 2012

From The Field....

Member document request:

"Can you send me a copy of the check I voided and tore up in 2008?"


Friday, June 15, 2012

New SPAM From NCUA - Third Bite: "Econ. 101"....

Do They "Eat Their Own Cooking"?
How we doing with the NCUA SPAM analysis? (see posts of 6-7&11-12).  

If you struggled with "the first exam" don't be surprised, 'cause NCUA no longer uses a "pass/fail" system.  Exams are now measured more on a "never good enough" approach and graded "on a curve(ball)"!  Even appears that many exams may now be graded in advance:  "Here are the conclusions upon which our findings will be based!"

But, before we proceed on to the NCUA SPAM loan/delinquency maps; a reader suggested that rather than continued critiques of the NCUA SPAM program, perhaps some "legitimate, constructive" suggestions might be appropriate - especially since NCUA is now "listening"

OK, good advice; here are three legitimate and constructive suggestions to improve the "backwards economics" being used in SPAM:

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Spider And The Fly...

"Will you step into my parlor?" said the spider to the fly;
"Tis the prettiest little parlor that ever you did spy.
The way into my parlor is up a winding stair,
And I have pretty things to show when you are there."
"O no, no," said the little fly, "to ask me is in vain,
For who goes up your winding stair can ne'er come down again."
- Mary Howitt (1799 -1888)

"First, I need to assure you:  If you have a legitimate complaint about how an exam was conducted, NCUA really does want to hear from you.  Your constructive comments can help NCUA create a more effective examination system."

"Did you know that NCUA offers six different levels to appeal an exam?"

Monday, June 11, 2012

New SPAM From NCUA - Second Slice: "The Whole Hawg-wash"

Food For Thought At NCUA?
Well, let's take another bite of SPAM!  Sorry for the delay (see post - 6/7/12); but wanted to give you a little  time, after your first "SPAM snack", for your stomach to settle.    

Again, SPAM are the fabulous, new NCUA " backwards economic" MAPS which promise so much, but in fact, deliver so little!  They look like "ham", but you might want to peruse the list of actual ingredients a bit, before you "pack your economic lunch bucket"!

How did you do on the ROA SPAM test?  Make sense that ROA - "the profitability ratio" - can get a bit tricky to evaluate in a not-for-profit credit union?  Credit union members most often receive their "ownership dividends" through better rates/lower costs of service or better access and terms; not from a share in the bottom-line earnings, as for-profit investors expect.  It's the classic "patronage model" of a cooperative in which  member-owners increase their cooperative benefits through greater usage of the services.

Let's see how you scored on the test...

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Haiku For You...


In the flow of thought
You are the moon to me now.
Isn't that enough?

Saturday, June 09, 2012

From The Field...

"On the surface, everyone has bought into the new program."

( Oh Lord, look out....!)

Thursday, June 07, 2012

New SPAM From NCUA - First Blush: ROA...

Very "economic"!!!
The NCUA proudly announced in a June 5, 2012 press release, the issuance of a whole new series of SPAM!  The SPAM series is the latest "product" from the increasingly famous Office of the Chief Economist.  

According to NCUA the SPAM series provides "timely, easy-to-use analysis about credit union performance". "With this information, credit unions can make better decisions and the public can gain a greater understanding of how credit unions are performing."  The NCUA Chair almost gushes with enthusiasm that the SPAM "highlights the diversity of credit union performance across the nation, reflecting local economic conditions, specific state strengths, and current challenges".

SPAM ???  Yep, SPAM!  If you haven't quite figured this out yet, we're talking about the new series of "economic" MAPS just released by the NCUA.  As with much of the Agency's collection and analysis of data, the MAPS are a bit "backward"- i.e., SPAM! And moreover, without a doubt; much of the content and "analysis" depicted by these MAPS definitely ain't  "filet mignon" grade anyway. For $2 million bucks one would expect higher quality.

The SPAM comes in two separate cans: 1) the Return on Assets (ROA) flavor and 2) the Loan/ Delinquency brand.  Let's spend a little time today on the ROA blend...OK?

Monday, June 04, 2012

"Listening" To The Fed... Not Just Another "Vacant Look"

The Federal Reserve regulates and supervises some of the largest and most sophisticated (well, other than that "little $2 billion incident" last month and the full-fledged "run to Mama" collapse of 2008!) financial institutions in the U.S.  The Fed is the acknowledged "first-in-class" U.S. financial/economic watchdog.  They've got the horsepower, the resources, the talent, and the credibility - despite Ron Paul's often wickedly insightful observations on their lapses!

"Advising" a CU Board...
So, what in the world is the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond doing holding a day-long seminar on "Reclaiming Vacant Housing" in Charlotte, N.C., with star-studded panels of the "Who's Who" in affordable housing, finance, government policy, and community development? Don't they need to be out there "pea-cocking" in some local bank's board room or be down at Disney "training"?  What in the devil is going on?

"What's going on" is a very fine example of responsible and responsive regulatory leadership.  

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Haiku For You...


Friendship and seashells,
A promise of safe refuge,
Free for the asking.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

From The Field....

"That's the proposal!  Would you be ole with that?"

(Yes, let's vamos with that idea...)