WASHINGTON-CUNA’s economists recently took stock of their 2004 economic predictions and determined they came out “reasonably well.” “Our forecast for GDP (Gross Domestic Product) growth, the unemployment rate, the fed funds rate and the 10-year Treasury rate were very close to what actually transpired,” the economists-Bill Hampel, Steve Rick, and Mike Schenk-said in their scorecard. “We missed the mark, however, on the inflation numbers. The unexpected rapid increase in oil prices and the steep drop in the dollar pushed the inflation rate higher than we and many others expected.” They admitted, “When it came to forecasting credit union financial indicators, we got some right and others,.well,.less than right.” Their projection for Return on Average Assets was dead on at 0.95% and they were close on loan growth, which came in at 10.8%, slightly higher than the 10% they forecast. The forecasts for credit union asset quality were close as well. However, the CUNA economists aimed too high on share growth with a forecast of 7%, when actual growth was around 5%. “As the economy rebounded in 2004, credit union members were in a borrowing and spending mood,” they explained. “Typically when households increase spending, savings growth tapers off. Because we overestimated 2004 savings growth, our forecasts for credit union loan-to-share and capital-to-asset ratios were too low.”

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