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MADISON, Wis. – Undoubtedly, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita are having a ripple effect on the nation’s economy and small credit unions in the affected states may have to brace for the worst. That’s according to the latest Credit Union Trends Report from CUNA Mutual Group, which expects inflation and interest rates to head higher in the coming months due to “substantial uncertainty in energy costs (and) deeper federal deficits from lost production and promised recovery funding.” It is unlikely that hurricane impacts will be seen in next month’s data, but the net result may be a market decline in excess of its 371 CU forecast for 2005, according to David Colby, chief economist, CUNA Mutual. Small CUs in the impacted areas will be the most challenged, he added. At the end of August, CUNA Economics & Statistics reported 9,123 CUs, reflecting a net decline of 26 CUs in August. Stating that “membership data is one of the most difficult measures to estimate,” the report indicated August’s 87.2 million member estimate reflects a net increase of 1.1 million members YTD and 1.4 million over the past year. “Final 2005 results will be very dependent on current data revisions and how CU mergers are treated in hurricane impacted areas,” Colby said. Other highlights from the report showed savings and assets both declined in August and annual growth remains “historically weak.” At the end of August, total assets equaled $689.1 billion. Total loan growth continues to outpace CUNA Mutual’s forecast, which is up 10.5% over the past year, with new vehicle and first mortgages “providing the lift,” Colby said. The loan-to-share ratio rose above 79% in August and is now 5.4 percentage points above the August 2004 level while the capital-to-asset ratio was solid at 11.1% during the same month, up from 10.8% last year. CUNA Mutual said the loan delinquency rate was “favorable” at 0.65%. CUNA Mutual’s report is based on data from CUNA E&S’s Monthly Credit Union Estimates; Federal Reserve Board; and CUNA Mutual-Strategic Planning – Economics 2005 Credit Union Forecast. [email protected]

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