The Business Breakdown

Credit cards, efficient cars, and unemployment goals are all in the news. Let's see what they mean for cooperatives.


This week has been a turbulent one. Oil prices are volatile amid international conflict. Apple introduced the second incarnation of the iPad. And the unrest in Wisconsin continues (check here for a rundown of articles about the debate).

In the financial world, there are positive and negative indicators as to what the future holds. Let’s take a look at some of the more intriguing developments.

  • Credit Card Data Says A Lot (Maybe Too Much): The New York Times reports on an Experian report that took a comprehensive look at how people have been using credit cards. The results didn’t provide much clarity, but the article comes with an excellent infographic about regional habits. The Breakdown: Some credit union members are still struggling making ends meet without relying on credit. Primarily, it’s great that cooperatives can meet this need. Of equal importance is educating strapped members on ways to save that don’t involve or lessen debt. Talk to them. See what rates they have. Offer them something better.
  • Small and Mighty: The Chicago Tribune reports on the burgeoning sales of fuel efficient cars, which in turn pushed overall sales up last month. The Breakdown: Fairly straightforward. People who are buying cars generally need loans. Credit unions can fill the void and seize up long-term relationships with members. Not only does the credit union get a relationship-building product but also a nice boost to the bottom line.
  • Seven Could Be Lucky: Two former Fed bigwigs are predicting that unemployment will fall to 7% by the end of 2012, per The Washington Post. Obviously, that would be great, but others aren’t as optimistic. The Breakdown: What can credit unions do to create jobs in their own communities? Member business lending is one option. Perhaps a member with a thriving local business wants to expand and needs a loan to do so. The new location would offer instant job opportunities for locals. Might be a good place to start.

There’s still a lot of volatility out there. But credit unions performed during the most turbulent economic time in decades. The key is seeing every development (positive or negative) as an opportunity to improve member satisfaction, credit union performance or community health.


March 3, 2011



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