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<p>WASHINGTON – NCUA Board Chair Dennis Dollar invited credit unions to make proposals to NCUA about alternative capital and how to “buffer” their net worth. Speaking to the CUNA GAC, Dollar said the September 11 attacks illustrated the reality that being federally insured matters in a crisis and that the relative flood of deposits credit unions and all federally insured financial institutions experienced in the wake of the attacks proved that. The attacks and the waves of money fleeing potentially unstable markets showed that credit unions must continue to strive to keep away from minimal net worth levels even as they strive to serve the members more efficiently, he said. Dollar spoke out against “those who would argue” that credit unions need to keep on hand the minimum net worth required, noting that in the recent months those credit unions in that position might have been in trouble. Jim Blaine, president of North Carolina based State Employees’ Credit Union is on the record with the opinion that credit unions are “over capitalized” and that the “excess capital” hurts credit union members. Blaine has been named chairman of NASCUS’ alternative capital task force. Dollar seemed to acknowledge Blaine’s point of view, though not agree with it, when he urged credit unions “balance” their building net worth with serving members and he strongly encouraged them to come forward with proposals, saying that NCUA wanted to hear and study them. Dollar’s remarks may represent the most public forum where he has expressed support for studying the alternative capital issue. The NCUA Chairman listed a number of “credit union myths” which, he said, events of 2001 had laid to rest. (Among them were the notions that economic events could not be driven by single events, that “disaster plans exist only to measure compliance”, that government agencies never get smaller, and that the overhead transfer rate always goes up.) He singled out for particular note the myth that the NCUA never listens to credit unions. Dollar said that the agency had begun listening more to credit unions and reading more credit union comments on proposals, and the end result that an increasing number of credit unions are submitting comments, he said. As proof Dollar reported that in 1999 the agency requested comments on 13 initiatives and garnered 279. In 2000 13 initiatives brought 1,113 comments and in 2001, 13 initiatives brought 1,611 comments. Dollar also praised the overturn of the CAP initiative as putting an end to the myth that credit unions need some sort of regulatory mechanism to insure they are doing their jobs. He castigated the NCRC study for showing “a distorted picture” of credit union success serving poor people and shared the HMDA statistics that, he maintained, indicated credit unions serve low-income people far better than other financial institutions that have Community Reinvestment Act requirements. “If you do it and you don’t talk about it you’re called humble,” Dollar said, “but sometimes somebody needs to brag on what credit unions do, too.”</p>

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