Boston Globe Article Highlights Visa and MasterCard’s Chip Card Push

Visa and MasterCard's efforts to bring chip card technology to the U.S. marketplace were highlighted in an Associate Press article which appeared in the Boston Globe on May 24.  The companies both contend that a converting from magnetic stripe card technology to chip cards will eliminate a substantial amount of U.S. card fraud.

Financial worries challenge nation’s servicemembers

A large majority of U.S. military service personnel worry about their income and job security, according to a National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) survey, which was administered in recognition of Military Appreciation Month.

EMV gains traction beyond U.S. border

Official figures released by EMVCo show increased adoption of Europay-MasterCard-Visa (EMV) chip technology, with 2.37 billion EMV payment cards in circulation and 36.9 million EMV terminals active worldwide as of the end of 2013. 

Consumer debt load burdened most by student loans

Led by $31 billion in student loans, household debt increased for the third consecutive quarter, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. 

Homeowners still tied down with negative, little equity

While negative equity levels continue to decline--as they did for the eighth consecutive quarter in the first quarter, according to Zillow Inc.--millions still find themselves underwater on their mortgages. 

Consumer confidence ticks up

Although dismal weather seems to abound, there is a sunnier picture being painted of consumer confidence, according to the most recent Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index (CCI). 

Greater Boston home values surge nearly 10 percent

Home values in Greater Boston rose 9.8 percent in November on a year-to-year comparison basis, according to a report on the US housing market issued Tuesday by the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices.

Drop in jobless claims indicates improvement

Initial jobless claims dropped for the first full week of 2014, indicating continued labor market improvement.

Economy setting moderate pace, says Fed Beige Book

The 12 Federal Reserve districts indicated economic activity expanded across most regions and sectors from late November through the end of the year, according to the Fed’s Beige Book which was released on Wednesday, January 15.

2013 ends with weakest job growth in years – CNNMoney, Jan 10

Hiring slumped sharply in December, as the economy added only 74,000 jobs, according to the government. This was the weakest month for job growth since January 2011 and came as a huge surprise to economists, who were expecting an addition of 193,000 jobs.

USA Today spotlights CUNA data for mobile payments snapshot

Research from the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) hit the money—the Money section of USA Today, that is—for a “USA Snapshot.”

Services in U.S. Expand at Slower Pace Than Forecast: Economy –, Jan. 6

Service industries unexpectedly grew at a slower pace in December, a sign that some parts of the U.S. economy are improving in fits and starts.

Student debt rises in Mass. and the nation –, Jan. 6

Anna Shuqom wasn’t all that surprised to hear that students at Wheelock College graduate with average loan debt of nearly $50,000, one of the highest totals in the country. The Wheelock sophomore figures she will owe at least twice that, even with aid from the school she will not have to repay.

Long-term unemployment remains high—, Jan. 6

Nearly 10.3 million Americans were unemployed in November, and almost 4 million of them, or 38.8% of all unemployed, have been out of work for 27 weeks or more.  December unemployment figures are due out January 10.

Number of the Week: Millennials in Military Are Much More Financially Secure—WSJ, Jan. 6

According to a Navy Federal Credit Union survey, 79% of the share of 18-to-34 year old members of the military are “very” or “somewhat” satisfied with their current financial situation.

November Bay State home sales drop after six straight months of increases

A total of 3,902 single-family homes sold in November, down from 3,983 in November 2012. This is the first time that home sales posted a decrease and the fewest number of sales recorded for a month since April. Even so, year-to-date sales are up more than 6 percent. A total of 45,979 sales have been recorded, up from 43,222 during the same period last year.

Mass. population growth is tops in N.E.—Boston Globe, Jan. 1

According to new US Census Bureau estimates released this week, Massachusetts’ population grew by 0.72 percent between the summer of 2012 and the summer of 2013, outpacing every other state in New England. Maine was one of only two states in the country to lose population.

Cost of living in U.S. unchanged as gasoline prices fall—Bloomberg, Dec. 17

The cost of living in the U.S. was unchanged in November from a month earlier, showing inflation is making scant progress toward the Federal Reserve’s goal.

U.S. Labor Secretary Perez comments on November jobs report

The November jobs report shows the American economy continues its broad and steady job growth heading into the New Year, adding 203,000 jobs. The unemployment rate dropped to 7.0 percent, and American manufacturing remained strong with the addition of 27,000 new jobs.

November job reports shows unemployment dropping to 7%

The unemployment rate declined from 7.3 percent to 7.0 percent in November, and total non-farm payroll employment rose by 203,000, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday, December 6. Employment increased in transportation and warehousing, health care, and manufacturing.

Home-mortgage debt sees first rise since recession—Marketwatch, Dec. 9

Home-mortgage debt, in the third quarter, rose for the first time since the Great Recession, according to the latest data showing consumers beginning to add leverage as the economy improves.

Construction data suggests shutdown was a blip – MarketWatch, Dec. 2

Instead of throwing the economy into a tailspin, the recent federal government shutdown looks more like a small blip, at least according to recently released construction data.

CUNA/CFA survey shows holiday spending expected to increase this year

More consumers plan to spend more than last year and fewer consumers less than last year, according to the 14th annual holiday spending survey conducted by the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) and the Credit Union National Association (CUNA).

Home prices continue climb in third quarter, rising 11% from a year earlier — CNNMoney, Nov. 26

Home prices continued to climb in third quarter, rising 11% from a year earlier.  The S&P/Case-Shiller home price index registered its first double-digit year-over-year gain since early 2006—just before the height of the housing bubble—despite a recent rise in mortgage rates.

Does social media take a holiday? — CU Insight, Nov. 25

The next seven weeks are often referred to as the “social media vacation.” Lots of us (including myself) will be traveling and shopping and piles of home stuff tend to overwhelm us – we feel like we can’t do it all and therefore, your credit union social media efforts tend to take a break. —By Michael Ogden, CUNA Mutual Group

Credit unions still beat banks on overdraft fees

A new study from reveals that a single checking overdraft fee can wipe out a year’s worth of deposit interest. But on the bright side, the study also shows credit unions offer higher rates and lower overdraft fees on average than banks.

Auto loan balances at record high $782.9B

Third quarter outstanding auto loan balances are at a record high, according the Experian Automotive, which began recording the data seven years ago.

Mortgage bank delinquencies fall but still higher than at credit unions

Data released November 7 by the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) show delinquency rates at a five-year low, but debtors who borrow from credit unions are still significantly less likely to find themselves in arrears.

Weekly mortgage applications fall 7%

The Mortgage Banker Association (MBA) said that its Market Composite Index—a seasonally adjusted index of mortgage application activity—fell by 7% for the week ended November 1.

Poll shows most consumers to cut back on holiday purchases

The vast majority of consumers surveyed still plan on spending either less than they did last year or nothing at all this holiday season, according to a poll from the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC).

Weekly jobless claims drop by 10,000

Jobless claims fell by 10,000 to 340,000 for the week ending Octover 26, according to the Labor Department.

CUNA survey shows more than half of those in U.S. who have smartphones make mobile payments

The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) released a survey that finds that among smartphone users, more than half use their phone to make some type of mobile payment (defined as “any payment done using a mobile phone”).  The survey also revealed that regardless of whether a smartphone owner uses mobile payments or not, security remains the foremost concern.

September Bay State foreclosure activity remains slow—The Warren Group

A total of 247 foreclosure deeds were recorded in September, a 52 percent drop from 512 during the same month a year ago. A total of 2,382 foreclosure deeds have been filed so far this year, a 63 percent decrease compared to 6,491 deeds recorded during the same period last year.

Economy adds 148,000 jobs in September, jobless rate fell to 7.2 percent—Washington Post, Oct. 22

Businesses began to slow hiring in September, even before the fiscal crisis in Washington sapped Americans’ confidence in the economy, according to recently released data.

Survey shows digital payments hit critical mass

Digital payments have hit critical mass, with 60% of consumers surveyed making a payment at least once a month using a laptop or desktop computer, 30% paying via their mobile phone and 22% through their tablet.

Index for future economic growth drops

An index of future U.S. economic growth fell to a three-month low on October 11.

October U.S. consumer sentiment weakest since January

American consumers are in a worse mood than expected, according to a Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan measure of consumer sentiment.

Checking account fees rise but less steeply—,

The bad news: Checking fees hit a record high in Bankrate’s 2013 Checking Survey. The good news: Free checking may survive after all.

Consumer credit increases 5.5% in August, credit unions see rise

U.S. consumer credit increased a seasonally adjusted 5.5% or $13.6 billion in August, for a total of $3.036 trillion borrowed during the month, according to the Federal Reserve’s Consumer Credit report. Money borrowed from credit unions totaled $259.9 billion.

Auto sales fell in September, hurt by early Labor Day—NY Times, Oct. 1

Sales of new vehicles in the United States slowed in September compared with last year, mainly because the Labor Day selling weekend fell in August.

Mobile technology forcing firms to adapt their business models

The dramatic rise in smartphone and tablet use is changing customer expectations, putting longstanding companies out of business while providing fertile growth opportunities for others. To succeed in a competitive financial services marketplace, CUNA Mutual Group’s Kevin Miller recently urged “Online Discovery” credit union attendees to adopt a “mobile first” digital strategy.

CUNA’s Schenk indicates Fed QE3 decision should make members more confident

The Federal Reserve (Fed) monetary policymakers’ decision not to reduce the purchases of $85 billion a month in Treasury bonds and mortgage backed securities isn’t a surprise, and may result in more confidence about the economy among credit union members, said a Credit Union National Association (CUNA) senior economist.

Existing-home sales rise 1.7% in August

U.S. existing-home sales increased in August and reached the highest level in six-and-a-half years, while the median price shows nine consecutive months of double-digit year-over-year increases, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

Bank survey shows customers fed up with fees

A recent survey shows bank customers across the country are dissatisfied with the checking account fees they are being charged: 35% of respondents to an AngusReid Public Opinion/TD Bank survey said they have closed a primary checking account or left their bank due to checking account fees, and 36% said they’d likely change banks due to dissatisfaction with the fees they have been charged.

Median income and poverty rate hold steady, Census Bureau finds, NY Times—Sept. 17

Last year, for the first time in half a decade, median household income did not fall and poverty did not rise, the Census Bureau said in the release of its major annual report on poverty, insurance, and earnings.

Massachusetts credit unions show strong growth in loans in Q2

The value of loans held at Massachusetts credit unions grew by 2.49% during the second quarter of 2013.  This pace of growth was well ahead of the national rate of loan growth which stood 2.3% which the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) indicted is the best loan quarterly growth figure that the credit union movement has posted since 2008.

Credit card use drops again in July, Boston Globe, Sept. 10

According to the Federal Reserve Bank, Americans cut back on using their credit cards in July for the second straight month, while taking on more debt to buy cars and attend school.  The decline in credit card use suggests consumers remain cautious, a trend that could hold back economic growth.

Moebs study suggests overdrafts reflect economy

Overdraft revenue increased modestly to an annualized $31.3 billion according to the latest quarterly study on overdrafts by Moebs Services, an economic research firm located in Lake Bluff, Illinois.  The approximately $200 million rise from the first quarter of 2013 still trails year end 2012 which was at $32.0 billion.  “Overdraft volume decreased as consumers reacted to uncertain economic times, so America’s financial institutions reacted by increasing price.  The combination of less volume and higher price results in a breakeven in net revenue for financial institutions,” says Michael Moebs, economist and CEO at Moebs Services.

More than 80% of Americans would pay down debt rather than save

Eighty-three percent of Americans admit that they would rather pay down their debts instead of save for their future, according to a recent online poll conducted by American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC).  The survey also found that 58 percent of consumers do not regularly deposit money in a savings account – a risky financial move that could land consumers further into debt.

U.S. consumers spent more in July

Consumer spending in the U.S. inched up in July amid slowing income growth and tame inflation (The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal Aug. 30).

CUNA monthly estimates show July loan growth, savings decline

Credit union loans outstanding grew in July and credit union savings balances declined, according to the Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA) monthly sample of credit unions.

Credit card balances see first year-over-year hike since 2008

The total balance of credit cards increased in the year ending in July to $533.6 billion from $533.3 billion, the first year-over-year increase in five years, according to Equifax’s latest National Consumer Trends Report.

Home prices gained in June, survey shows, NY Times, Aug. 27

U.S. home prices rose in June but the pace of gains cooled, suggesting higher mortgage rates may end up slowing momentum in the housing sector as the year winds down.

CUNA’s Women’s Financial Survey topic on

The Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA) Women’s Financial Survey led off a story Sunday, August 25 on about “The One Thing You Shouldn’t Do When Investing for Retirement.”

August consumer confidence drops

With Americans confronting escalating interest rates and slowing economic growth, U.S. consumer confidence unexpectedly dropped in August from a six-year high, according to the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Confidence Index (The New York Times, and Moody’s August 16).

July bankruptcy filings rise 5%, down 10% from year ago

Total U.S. bankruptcy filings for July decreased 10%, compared with July 2012, according to data provided by Epiq Systems Inc.—a provider of managed technology for the global legal profession—and a partner with the American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI).

Pew survey shows half of U.S. adults bank online

Over half (51%) of U.S. adults today bank online, and 32% of them transact financial business on their mobile phones. The 51% of online-bank users account for 61% of internet users, said a new survey from the Washington, D.C.-based Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project, whose results were announced August 7.

Consumer credit climbs 6%, credit unions also see increase

Consumer credit rose a seasonally adjusted 6% or $13.8 billion in June, for a total of $2.8 trillion borrowed during the month, said the Federal Reserve’s Consumer Credit report. Money borrowed from credit unions totaled $251.5 billion.

TransUnion study shows card payments foretell delinquencies on other loans

Consumers who pay more than the minimum amount each month on their credit card bills are more likely to have lower delinquency rates not only on their card accounts but also on their mortgages and auto loans, according to a new study from TransUnion. Those who paid close to the minimum amount had higher delinquency rates.

Fed policy means reduced margin compression for credit unions

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) announced Wednesday, July 31, that it would stay the course on monetary policy, and that means credit unions will see a slightly steeper yield curve, which should reduce margin compression for them, said a Credit Union National Association senior economist.

2,090 credit unions ‘Go Paperless’ with CUNA Mutual Group

Nearly 2,100 credit unions signed up for a Go Paperless campaign CUNA Mutual Group offered to help the environment and raise money for the National Credit Union Foundation.

Equifax data show declining delinquency rates

A turnaround in home pricing trends is a factor on the improvement of consumer payment behavior and delinquencies in all major areas—except student loans—for the first half of 2013, reports Equifax in its latest National Consumer Credit Trends Report, released July 26.

Bay State home sales rise in June—up for the 2nd consecutive month

Single-family home sales rose 1 percent in June, the second straight month of increases. A total of 5,591 single-family homes sold in June, up from 5,535 a year earlier. This marks the best month for sales since June 2010, when there were 5,662 sales.

Study shows that big banks could lose $92B in deposits in 2014

Twenty-six percent of customers at the nation’s top 10 national retail banks expressed frustrations about their primary bank in a new study that projects the banks will lose $92 billion in deposits next year while consumers transfer their accounts to credit unions and community banks.

Poll finds credit unions favored among financially savvy

Financially savvy consumers overwhelmingly choose credit unions as their preferred institutions, says a new poll, and that is no surprise, says Paul Gentile, Credit Union National Association executive vice president of strategic communications and engagement.

Inflation shows signs of stability after downward drift

Consumer prices picked up in June and underlying inflation pressures showed signs of stabilizing, keeping on course expectations the Federal Reserve (Fed) will start reducing its bond purchases later this year.

Mixed reports on consumer sentiment

Consumer confidence unexpectedly fell in July because U.S. citizens became less upbeat about the economy’s outlook, according to the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary index of consumer sentiment, which was released Friday, July 12 ( and Moody’s July 12).

Consumer borrowing surges In May

U.S. consumer credit, in May, surged by the biggest amount in a year, and borrowing in all areas at credit unions also increased, according to the Federal Reserve’s Consumer Credit report released July 8.

Emerging loss trends threaten credit unions’ financials

Credit unions are becoming more susceptible to emerging-loss exposures that can cause immediate losses or result in third-party claims, litigation, and subsequent losses, a CUNA Mutual Group risk management specialist said during an America’s Credit Union Conference Discovery Breakout Session July 3.

Credit unions on top in new savings rate study

A just-released savings rate study comparing rates at credit unions and community banks has found that “it is credit unions that do, in fact, come out on top,” according to (June 28).

Key federal student loan rate doubles—Washington Post, July 1

The interest rate on a key federal student loan doubled Monday, July 1, as expected, but it is unclear whether Congress will allow the increase to stand before the new school year gets under way.

76% of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck—CNNMoney, June 24

Roughly three-quarters of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck, with little to no emergency savings, according to a survey released by on June 24.

TMG survey shares credit unions’ plans for EMV migration

Sixty-two percent of credit union and community bank respondents to a survey by The Members Group (TMG) said they need to develop a Europay-MasterCard-VISA (EMV) strategy to reduce fraud losses or to meet the liability-shift deadlines put in place by the major card networks.

Job openings dipped in April

The number of U.S. job openings dipped to 3.76 million in April from 3.88 million in March, according to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) released on June 11 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

U.S. consumer sentiment slips in May from 6-year high

After reaching a six-year high in May, U.S. consumer confidence dipped in June to 82.7 from 84.5 in May, according to the Thomson/Reuters University of Michigan preliminary index of consumer sentiment.

May jobs report: Cautious hiring continues—CNNMoney, June 7

The U.S. economy added 175,000 jobs in May, according to the Department of Labor. Hiring at that rate isn’t terrible, but it’s unexceptional at this point. It marks a slight improvement from April, when a revised 149,000 jobs were created, but still falls in line with average job growth over the last three years.

Auto leasing reaches record high

Experian Automotive recently announced that new vehicle leasing rose by 12.5 percent to achieve the highest level since it began tracking the data in 2006. According to its State of the Automotive Finance Market report, leasing accounted for a record 27.5 percent of all new vehicles financed, up from 24.4 percent in Q1 2012. Additionally, findings from the report showed that the average monthly payment for a new vehicle financed in Q1 was $459, down from $462 in Q1 2012.

Moebs study shows overdraft revenue fell $1B in first quarter

Overdraft revenue for financial institutions dropped at an annual rate of nearly $1 billion or 2.8% during first quarter 2013 from first quarter 2012, according to a quarterly study by Moebs Services, a Chicago-area economic research firm.

New England jobless rate down In April—Worcester Business Journal, May 28

As the national jobless rate dropped 0.6 of a percentage point in April over last year, to 7.5 percent, the decline was more significant in New England, where unemployment was down from 7.2 percent last year to 6.8 percent, according to data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on May 28.

Consumer confidence surged to a five-year high in May—CNNMoney, May 28

The Consumer Confidence Index, which gauges how consumers feel about the economy each month, rose to 76.2 in May—its highest reading since February 2008, according to research firm The Conference Board.

March home prices see best annual rise in seven years—NY Times, May 28

Home prices accelerated by the most in nearly seven years in March while consumer confidence surged in May, suggesting there were areas of resilience for an economy that is facing the pinch of belt-tightening in Washington.

Class of 2013 grads average $35,200 in total debt

Between ballooning student loans, credit cards, and money owed to family members, they are facing an average $35,200 in college-related debt, a Fidelity survey of 750 college graduates shows.

Bankrate: Two-thirds of prepaid debit cards have no monthly fees

A study of 24 widely issued prepaid debit cards indicates all charge fees of some kind.  However, two-thirds either have no monthly fee or offer a fee waiver.

Study says credit unions, community banks overpay for core services

Credit unions and community banks are not doing themselves any favors in negotiating information technology (IT) service provider contracts, according to a survey of executives about their top business concerns and management priorities.

U.S. Retail Sales up 0.1% in April—Washington Post, May 13

Retail sales edged up 0.1 percent in April, the Commerce Department said on May 13.  That’s an improvement from a 0.5 percent decline in March, the largest drop in nine months.

Jobless claims hit lowest level since 2008—MarketWatch, May, 9

New claims for jobless benefits have hit the lowest level in more than five years, and recent trends signal little change in the pace of layoffs despite federal spending cuts, according to a weekly government report released May 9.

Consumer credit in U.S. increases less than forecast—Bloomberg, May 7

Consumer borrowing in the U.S. climbed less than projected in March, as Americans reduced credit-card purchases for the first time this year.

April jobs report shows increase

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 165,000 in April, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 7.5 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.  Employment increased in professional and business services, food services and drinking places, retail trade, and health care.

New white paper assesses DDoS risk to credit unions

Over the past eight months, a buzz has grown around news of Islamic hacktivist groups targeting U.S. banks with powerful distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. Against this backdrop, writes Chief Technology Officer Kevin Prince of CompuShare in a just-released white paper, credit unions and community banks have to ask themselves: How concerned should we be?

GDP growth slower than expected for first quarter

U.S. economic growth in the first quarter was slower than expected, with gross domestic product expanding at a 2.5% annualized pace, the Commerce Department said April 26.

88% of ATM owners not ready for global standards

Survey results confirm that ATM owners’ concerns about the ATM liability shift that went into effect recently are justified, the ATM Industry Association (ATMIA) announced April 30.

Fed warns of student debt economic impact

Unprecedented levels of student debt may be restricting the spending power of young, skilled workers, and, in turn, harming the recovery of U.S. housing, automobile, and general consumer markets, Federal Reserve Bank of New York economists reported in a blog post filed recently.

Fed’s Beige Book: Moderate growth in March

Strong gains in housing and increases in auto sales fueled an overall upward trend in economic activity nationwide between late February and early April.  The first district, headquartered in Boston, reports point to increased manufacturing activity and modest increases in real estate despite limited inventory.

Survey: 50% of high school seniors do not know student loan costs—CUNA News Now, April 18

Nearly half of high school seniors in the U.S. do not know how much money they will need for college, and even more do not understand basic student loan terms, according to the Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA) first annual High School Student Borrowing Survey.

U.S. March housing starts rise to highest since 2008 – Banker and Tradesman, April 16

Groundbreaking to build new U.S. homes rose in March to the highest level since 2008, adding to evidence of a healthier housing market.

March retail sales see biggest drop In months

With employment slackening, U.S. retail sales decreased in March by the most in nine months, according to Commerce Department figures released on April 12.

Consumer credit rises 78%, up at credit unions for February

Consumers’ debt in February rose $18.1 billion or 7.8%, seasonally adjusted, the highest jump in borrowing in six months, according to the Federal Reserve’s Consumer Credit report released recently.

Massachusetts foreclosure activity continues to drop In February

Foreclosure activity in Massachusetts dropped again in February, thanks to improving economic conditions and a revitalized real estate market, according to the latest report from The Warren Group, publisher of Banker & Tradesman.

Fannie Mae posts record profit—CNNMoney, April 2

Mortgage financing giant Fannie Mae, Tuesday, reported a record profit of $17.2 billion for 2012, a testament to how much the housing market has improved lately.

Lack of savings tops financial concerns

More than half of Americans worry about how little they have in savings, according to results of the 2013 Financial Literacy Survey by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) and the Network Branded Prepaid Card Association (NBPCA).