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WASHINGTON-Banks and thrifts beat their previous record net income of $120.5 billion for 2003 with a total of $123 billion at year-end 2004, according to year-end data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Last year was the fourth consecutive year that industry earnings set a new record. The industry earned $31.8 billion in the fourth quarter, its third highest quarter on record. Earnings were boosted by strong loan growth and lower loan losses in the fourth quarter, according to FDIC, but these were offset some by merger expenses and lower gains on sales of securities. “Certainly the bankers’ performance goes a long way to undercut their argument that credit unions have some sort of unfair advantage over them,” CUNA President and CEO Dan Mica noted. He added that credit unions would be sure to point out this data to lawmakers while they were in town during CUNA’s Governmental Affairs conference. “It’s good news that the banks are showing record profits,” NAFCU President and CEO Fred Becker stated. “It shows the economy is becoming stronger. What is unfortunate for the consumer is that banks pass these profits to their shareholders, not their customers. That’s why a credit union is a much wiser choice for a financial consumer.”

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