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CEO CONFIDENCE CONTINUES

IN THE DOLDRUMS, STUDY SAYS

DALLAS-Confidence among credit union CEO declined again last quarter and continues near record lows as the economic recovery is slow to take hold, according to the second quarter CEO Confidence Survey conducted by Southwest Corporate FCU.

The overall index declined to 13.41 for the second quarter, down from 14.91 for the first quarter, and well below the 30s and 40s of 2004 to 2007 when the corporate began conducting the quarterly survey.

Indicators for members' financial condition, both now and projected, climbed slightly in the second quarter, compared to the previous three quarters, but the perception of the financial condition of individual credit unions, both now and in six months, also remains very weak, with little change from the previous two years.

The participating credit unions also project loan growth at zero for the year, as slack demand continues to plague the industry. Share growth is projected to be at almost 20%, as members continue to pay off household debt. The survey is sent to about 1,300 credit union CEOs nationwide.

OBAMA SKIPS OVER WARREN IN CFPB DIRECTOR NOMINATION

WASHINGTON-President Obama kissed would-be consumer czar Elizabeth Warren on the cheek and thanked her during a Rose Garden ceremony last week where he announced the nomination of former Ohio attorney general Richard Cordray as director of the new Consumer Financial Protection Agency, the post long-coveted by Warren.

President Obama's retreat on the appointment of Warren to head the fledgling consumer agency came after overwhelming opposition by Republican lawmakers who questioned her heatedly during more than a dozen hearings this spring. But GOP leaders made it clear they so oppose the new agency they won't agree to confirm anybody nominated by the president until he agrees to create a multi-person board-and not a single-director-to head the new agency.

"We'll insist on serious reforms to bring accountability and transparency to the agency before we consider any nominee to run it," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said in a speech on the Senate floor. Sen. Richard Shelby, the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, said they will not vote for any nominee until the demanded changes are made. "Until President Obama addresses our concerns by supporting a few reasonable structural changes, we will not confirm anyone to lead it," Shelby said in a statement. "No accountability, no confirmation."

McConnell, Shelby and 42 other Republican senators signed a letter vowing to block a CFPB appointment until the president agrees to support changes to the consumer agency.

The heightened controversy over the appointment comes as the new agency was scheduled to open for business last week. Adding to the drama were rumors that Warren may run for the Senate in next year's election, providing the possibility she could return to Washington next year to torment her tormenters.

Cordray, 52, was already working to help organize the new agency having become known as a banking critic when, as attorney general, he sued the GMAC Mortgage unit of Ally Financial Inc, which he accused of fraudulent foreclosure practices. Cordray, who also served as Ohio state treasurer, was a five-time winner on the TV show "Jeopardy" in the 1980s.

TOP ABA LOBBYIST STONER RETIRES AFTER 26 YEARS

WASHINGTON-The American Bankers Association said Floyd Stoner, its chief lobbyist, is retiring at year-end after 26 years with the leading banking lobby. The ABA said senior lobbyists Ken Clayton and James Ballentine will assume operational responsibilities next year for the congressional relations and public policy division with Clayton becoming chief counsel and SVP of legislative affairs and Ballentine serving as SVP of congressional relations and political affairs. Stoner's retirement comes a year after the retirement of Ed Yingling, Stoner's predecessor as chief lobbyist who spent the previous 10 years as president of the ABA.

SETTLEMENT SETS RESTRICTIONS

FOR VISA AND MASTERCARD

NEW YORK-The final parameters of an antitrust settlement submitted to a federal court here last week by the Department of Justice promises to give merchants and cardholders more choices when paying for goods and services by preventing Visa and MasterCard from enforcing anti-steering bylaws.

The settlement with the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice and attorneys general for 17 states will bar Visa and MasterCard from adopting, maintaining or enforcing any rule that "directly or indirectly prohibits, prevents, or restrains any merchant in the United States" from offering customers discounts, rebates or other inducements to use any card brand or form of payment, like cash.

The terms of the settlement will also prohibit Visa and MasterCard preventing merchants from communicating the costs the merchant incurs when using a particular brand or type of card or the benefits of using other forms of payment.

The settlement will also give the officials of the Antitrust Division access to all Visa and MasterCard books, ledgers, accounts, records, data and documents related to the anti-steering case and to interview officers, employees or agents of the two networks.

A final judgment in the case will expire in ten years.

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York is expected to accept the terms of the settlement submitted by the Justice Department's Antitrust Division and the 17 states, while at the same time continuing to pursue similar charges against American Express, which has so far refused to settle the antitrust suit.

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