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Mortgage Refi's Prop Up Economy

WEST CHESTER, Pa.-A new study suggests that the boom in mortgage refinancing which prompted trillions of dollars in new loans accounted for as much as 20% of the growth in gross domestic product in the past two years.

"It is important to realize that the refinancing boom has been instrumental in keeping the economy together as long as it has been together," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at economy.com. About $1.2 trillion of mortgages were refinanced last year, and experts say this year's tally will be $1.25 trillion to $1.4 trillion. But the refinancing boom "will eventually wane, and we can't continue to depend on it to support our economy," Zandi said.

Zandi put the benefits of the refinance boom in two categories: those coming from the money taken out of home equity in cash-out refinancings and those coming from the savings on mortgage rate payments. Zandi said borrowers took out as much as $100 billion in cash-outs in 2001 and that they will have taken out as much as $170 billion this year.

Northwest Corporate Paying Rebate

PORTLAND, Ore.-Northwest Corporate CU said it is paying more than $120,000 in rebates to CUs that are part of its Relationship Pricing Program.

The program rewards its most loyal members by offering discounts on fee-based services, offering three levels of discount based on the number of fee-based services used and investments held at Northwest Corporate. CUs receive their discount in the form of a rebate.

Robbery Suspect Nabbed

ANCHORAGE, Ala.-A local man was arrested at his home after he allegedly robbed an Alaska USA FCU branch here. William Clary, 30, was being held on armed robbery charges, police said. The robber entered the credit union around 2 p.m. and demanded money but did not show a weapon, but handed the teller a note implying he had one.

CU Picketers Brave Bitter Weather

ANDERSON Ind.-Employees of Madison County Federal Credit Union picketed the credit union's three offices through several inches of snow recently as their union representatives met in bargaining sessions with credit union management.

Members of the Office and Professional Employees Union, Local 1, were in the second week of a strike, precipitated when labor negotiations broke off Dec. 9. Karen Perryman, president of the local, told The Credit Union Journal there was little progress made during recent bargaining sessions.

Management was able to keep two of the credit union's offices open throughout the work stoppage with the help of three workers who crossed the picket lines and replacement employees.

Colo. Eyes Incidental Powers

DENVER-State-chartered credit unions in Colorado would be afforded the same powers to offer members many of the same products and services they must now offer through subsidiary CUSOs under a proposal to adopt an Incidental Powers rule similar to the one passed by NCUA last year.

The proposal would also allow state credit unions to sell parts of or all of member loans to any entity without prior approval of the state CU Commissioner.

The proposals will be aired by the Division of Financial Services in a public hearing Jan. 10 at the DFS offices.

Serial Robber Favors CUs

PROVO, Utah-A masked bandit who held up Beehive CU is believed to be the same man who robbed three other Wasatch Front credit unions and a bank over the past few months.

The suspect walked into the credit union brandishing a handgun just before closing and demanded cash, moving form teller to teller, before fleeing with an undisclosed sum.

Because of his description, manner, and procedure, authorities believe he is the same man who robbed Mountain High CU Dec. 6, Cypress CU last July, Alpine CU in October, and AmBank in August. The FBI is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the suspect.

'Pot Bellied' Bandit Gets 10 Years

BOWLING GREEN, Ky.-An aging desperado who robbed more than 25 credit unions and banks in a seven-state area was sentenced to 10 years in prison and ordered to pay more than $86,000 in restitution to his victims.

Douglas Lee Poling, dubbed the 'Pot Bellied Bandit' because of his girth, pleaded guilty last August to robbing 17 credit unions and banks in Kentucky, Indiana, Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Tennessee and South Carolina.

The 52-year-old Poling, of Newport, Mich., was arrested last December by state police near the Tennessee border after a high-speed chase on Interstate 65 that reached 100 miles an hour after he robbed AutoTruck FCU and Integra Bank in Louisville.

Among the credit unions Poling confessed to robbing were: AutoTruck FCU and Park FCU in Louisville, UT FCU, Knoxville, Tenn., and South Carolina Telco FCU, Greenville, S.C.

During his robberies, Poling would hand the teller a note demanding money but never displayed a gun.

2 More FCUs Change Charters

SACRAMENTO, Calif.-State regulators with the Department of Financial Institutions approved applications from two Pleasanton-based credit unions to convert to state charters, making a total of nine conversions of California-based credit unions from federal charter this year.

Approved for state charters this week were: EBTEL Federal Credit Union ($120 million) to be known as EBTEL Credit Union; and SafeAmerica Federal Credit Union ($240 million), now called SafeAmerica CU. More than 50 federal credit unions in California have converted to state charters over the past five years.

More Loans Boost Christmas Giving

STOCKTON, Calif.-Financial Center Credit Union hoped to raise as much as $30,000 for the needy through a new Christmas promotion under which it agreed to donate $2.50 to one of four charities for every $1,000 loaned through Christmas Eve.

Borrowers were allowed to chose between the four charities: St. Mary's Interfaith Dining Room; Gemini; Catholic Charities or the Stockton Diocese; or the United Way of San Joaquin County.

Funds raised through the program will be split between the charities.

Members Get Christmas Cheer

WICHITA, Kan.-The board of Boeing Wichita CU has voted to pay members a special $300,000 year-end dividend.

It is the third year in a row the $320 million credit union, the state's largest, will make the special Christmas-time payout.

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