Hot Money May Cool Off For Some Time In CUs

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The nation credit unions continued to bathe in new savings last year, with more than $50 billion of new shares pouring into credit unions during the 12-month period, according to CUNA. That makes almost $110 billion in new savings flooding into credit unions over the past two years-expanding credit union deposits by almost 30% during this fruitful period.

Bill Hampel, chief economist for CUNA, said it looks increasingly likely that much of these funds will be long-term, as growing numbers of Americans have lost faith in the stock market as the best place to park their savings.

"A lot of the savings that have flown into depository institutions is going to stay there. People have learned the lesson of the stock market that it's not such an easy place to make money," said Hampel, who predicted continued double-digit growth in savings, at least for this year.

Despite the massive inflow of new savings, net capital remained strong, at around 10.9% at year-end, roughly what it was at the beginning of the year, according to CUNA, but down from the 11.4% at year-end 2000. Loans also expanded at a healthy pace last year, by 7.8%, according to CUNA. Much of that was prompted by the booming mortgage market, according to Hampel. The weak economy apparently had little negative impact on credit union loans, as the average delinquency ratio actually declined to 0.77% at year-end, from 0.82% at year-end 2001.

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