One of the financial media’s favorite themes to come out of the Occupy movement has been The Rise of the Credit Union. Remember “Bank Transfer Day”? That was when the Occupiers and their like-minded pals were supposed to pull money from the big, evil banks and then deposit it in plucky, not-for-profit CUs. Take that, Brian Moynihan! The South Florida Sun-Sentinel is the latest to swoon:
As 2011 draws to a close, one clear winner is the credit union.
Florida credit unions are growing at a torrid pace, fueled by a backlash against banks and Wall Street and by marketing campaigns focusing on their differences from as not-for-profit cooperatives. These financial groups tend to charge lower fees and score higher on customer satisfaction than commercial banks do, independent studies show.
Credit unions in Florida averaged 12,000 new members in each of the first two quarters and 31,000 in the third quarter, as resentment rose against banks for imposing higher fees. They surpassed 4.5 million members as of Sept. 30, according to the League of Southeastern Credit Unions. . . . .
Assets in Florida credit unions grew by $159 million in the first three quarters to $42.1 billion. That reversed a drop in assets a year earlier, when Florida struggled with recession. Loans to members rose 2 percent, about half the U.S. growth rate, but also reversing declines seen in 2010, the league said. [Emph. added]
It’s economic populism at work! . . . But wait. . . . A $159 million increase in assets on a base of $42.1 billion works out to a rise of . . . 0.38%. I’m not sure that counts as “growing at a torrid pace.” In fact, I’m sure it doesn’t. Similarly, the membership increase the Sun-Sentinel reports comes to just 1.7%, and I bet that’s a gross number, that doesn’t take account of all the accounts closed over the same period. So on the available evidence, CUs are plodding along just like the for-profit depositories they’re suddenly supposed to be such a threat to. This story is really not a story at all. Don’t editors have calculators anymore? . . . .