WASHINGTON -- CUNA Chief Economist Bill Hampel is becoming the darling of a number of economic reporters in the mainstream, which is helping to thrust credit unions into the public eye.
Two articles appeared March 7 in separate publications citing Hampel. An Associated Press wire article quoted Hampel discussing the Federal Reserves latest consumer data. Consumer credit increased 3.2% (annualized) in January, which was up from a drop of 2.5% in December. "The high debt levels that many consumers are carrying will be a factor governing their borrowing behavior," Hampel told AP. "Some of the steam will be coming out of consumer spending."
A story also ran in MarketWatch on the same subject. While the Fed's data do not include real estate debt, home equities remain a possibility for consumers, as rates have stayed low, it pointed out. "There is a huge amount of available untapped equity," Hampel was quoted as saying in MarketWatch. However, he added that consumers are also trying to tighten their purse strings and have been aided by lower gas prices in January, where a lot of charges are made.