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WASHINGTON-Bankers’ “latest round of whining and belligerency” demonstrates their misunderstanding – or outright distortion – or the facts about credit unions, CUNA Chairman Dick Ensweiler wrote in a March 12 Letter to the Editor appearing in the American Banker. “The banks repeatedly and loudly carp that credit union competition is driving them into oblivion. Yet, the FDIC reported just last month that the banking industry in 2003 posted record profits (again),” he wrote. The letter noted that FDIC’s Quarterly Banking Profile of banks showed record earnings of $120.6 billion, outdoing the previous record of $105.1 billion in 2002. Ensweiler also pointed out that banks’ return on assets stood at 1.40% for 2003 and an average of 1.25% over the last five years. Meanwhile, credit unions showed only a 1.00% ROA and averaged 0.99% over the last five years. Additionally, Ensweiler said, The Economist reported that bank profits make up one-third of all corporate profits nationwide, so “Given all of this – what possible threat could credit unions pose to the nation’s banks?” He charged that the banking industry is trying to hide behind the image of “community banks” in order to fool the public, and lawmakers into “the notion that the nation’s banking industry is typified by small-time operations on the Main Streets of America. “Baloney. That may be true for a small number of America’s banks (who truly play an important role in supporting their communities), but for the vast majority it’s just not the case,” Ensweiler stated. [email protected]

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