Felix Salmon

The Bank of Cattaraugus’s numbers

Alan Feuer has the story of the Bank of Cattaraugus, a tiny community bank in the eponymous town an hour south of Buffalo. It’s a heartwarming tale of community banking:

Banking: Why geography matters

Jeff Grabmeier reports on some interesting research from Ohio State’s Stephanie Moulton, which shows that borrowers with low incomes or bad credit are significantly less likely to default on their loans if they borrow from a local bank than if they borrow from a distant bank or mortgage company.

Union contract of the day, NCUA edition

Robin Sidel reports on the NCUA’s new budget:

The 2011 budget for the National Credit Union Administration, which insures about 7,400 credit unions, will rise 12% from the prior year, fueled partly by contractual pay raises for unionized employees…

The cost of being unbanked

Candice Choi has a great first-person story about the cost of not having a bank account. She gave up her account for a month, to experience the inconvenience and expense of being unbanked at first hand.

When credit unions fail

There are lots of great credit unions in America, all of which are owned by their members. And then there are the corporate credit unions, which are atrocious and expensive failures. Today, the final nail was placed in their coffin when the last three big corporates were officially taken over by the government.

ShoreBank, RIP

Remember the ShoreBank rescue, back in May? Well, it got lots of headlines at the time, but it didn’t pan out in the end, and now ShoreBank has failed. The FDIC’s deposit insurance fund is taking a $367.7 million loss, and the money which was going to be invested in ShoreBank by Goldman, JP Morgan, Citigroup and others is now going to be invested in ShoreBank’s successor institution, Urban Partnership Bank. UPB will have a whole new management team, led by former Bank One executive William Farrow — something which rather puts the lie to conspiracy theories which said that Goldman et al were only investing in ShoreBank because its CEO was a friend of Barack Obama’s.

The credit unions’ fight against interchange regulation

Yesterday saw an enormous lobbying effort from the credit union industry; John Magill, the chief lobbyist for the Credit Union National Association, told me that there were over 400,000 “contacts” with Congress this week. He was on the phone with Harriet May, the CEO of a big El Paso credit union, GECU, and the chairman of the CUNA board. She was trying hard to persuade me that credit unions are implacably opposed to regulating interchange fees, which she was prone to characterize as “government price fixing”.

The Shorebank rescue

There’s a lot of conspiracy-theorizing going on around the high-level rescue of Chicago’s ShoreBank by Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, JP Morgan, Bank of America, and General Electric. The founder of the bank is BFF with BHO, and Chicago politics being what it is, everybody is assuming that the banks involved are expecting some kind of political quid pro quo down the road, for rescuing one of Chicago’s most-loved financial institutions.

What kind of image should a community bank project?

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I’m very happy that the Lower East Side People’s Federal Credit Union made it into the photomontage the NYT used to illustrate an article on switching bank accounts — even if there was no mention of credit unions in the article itself. I’m on the board of LESPFCU, and we’ll take all the publicity we can get.