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Rep Pitches Plan To Jump Start Housing

WASHINGTON—Democratic Rep. Gary Ackerman last week said he will introduce legislation aimed at jumpstarting the housing market by providing two new enticements to homebuyers. The housing plan would be paid for by temporarily reducing the tax rate that corporations pay when they bring overseas earnings back to the U.S., the New York congressman said in a released statement. The bill would provide two-million homebuyers $20,000 each as a matching subsidy for a down payment. The subsidy would be structured as a loan, which would be forgiven over the course of five years, as long as the buyer continued to live in the house.

Where Were You On 9/11? CU Journal Seeks Input

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.—Credit Union Journal is assembling a special report marking the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and is seeking reader input. Were you working at the credit union that day? What do you recall about events, how the news spread, member reactions, and the steps the credit union took? Share your recollections by clicking on the “Letters to the Editor” tab at www.cujournal.com.

FDIC: 12% of Banks Identified As ‘Troubled’

WASHINGTON—Although the fund has moved back into the black (CU Journal, Aug. 17), the FDIC is reporting the number of “problem banks” it insures is approaching a 20-year high. In congressional testimony, the bank regulator said that as of March 31, 2011, 888 FDIC-insured institutions were identified as “problem” banks. That figure is 12% of all FDIC-insured institutions. The FDIC noted that despite the high number of problem banks, the actual number of bank failures is slowing, with the number of failures in 2011 expected to be half that of 2010.

CUNA Mutual Adds To Capital

MADISON, Wis. – CUNA Mutual Group has released mid-year numbers indicating it has continued to add to its capital, despite a first half of 2011 that included numerous weather-related claims. The company said weather-related losses were offset by strong performances from its lending and financial services products, which helped to drive $51 million of GAAP net income through June, compared to $63 million during the same period the year prior. Additionally, GAAP operating revenue grew in the first half of the year by 2.3%, the company said. CUNA Mutual said its statutory total adjusted capital grew to $1.45 billion through June, up $30 million from year-end.

Ex-Employee Pleads To $428K Theft

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. – A former employee of Pacific Advantage FCU has entered a plea of no-contest after being charged with stealing more than $428,000 from the credit union. Norielyn Bautista, 43, was charged with grand theft, embezzlement, forgery and identity theft for the fraud that authorities said took place from 2006 to 2010. Bautista was found to have stolen funds from the personal accounts of 15 members to pay her personal expenses. She is expected to face up to five years in prison when sentenced.

MasterCard: Support For 2 Tiers

WASHINGTON – MasterCard reiterated its support for the two-tiered debit interchange system, its commitment to monitoring merchants, and shared how CUs can report card acceptance issues during a phone conference hosted by CUNA last week.

The one-hour call covered many issues CUs have been asking about, including that the payment network intends to keep the existing rate structure in place. MasterCard noted, however, those rates are “subject to market forces.” The company’s final rate decisions will be made within 30 days of Oct. 1.

MasterCard explained it will have an online registration process that Master- Card-affiliated financial institutions must complete regardless of asset size. The payment network confirmed it will be monitoring merchants diligently, looking for any reports of merchants not accepting cards or frustrating acceptance of credit union cards.

Credit unions on the call were concerned about whether MasterCard will have a reporting mechanism so CU members can report to MasterCard if there are acceptance issues. The company said a reporting mechanism is now in place that deals with merchants violating current rules.

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