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WASHINGTON — Leading credit union executives and economists suggested competing priorities, combined with apathy and the passage of time have kept credit unions from seeking an alternative source of capital for credit unions.

An alternative source of capital would be any one source of capital other than retained earnings, the only source of capital open to the vast majority of federally insured credit unions in the U.S. In theory secondary capital could include access to capital markets as well as the ability to raise capital through capital investments by a credit union’s members. In practice, almost all alternative capital discussions have centered on the ability to raise capital from credit union members.

Leaders and economists from a variety of different perspectives interviewed on the issue cited the very real philosophical and political challenges alternative capital approaches face, but they acknowledged that the issue was ripe for further discussion and possible progress.

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