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On his 10th anniversary within the credit union movement, I find it interesting that Fred Becker mentions his observation of the erosion of cooperation among credit unions. As one who passed that same milestone back in July, I’m very inclined to agree. Competition with other lenders and external pressures have helped to drive a fissure into the cooperative philosophy of the credit union industry. This is moving in the wrong direction.

Right now, when lending is depressed and ROA is in a slump industrywide is when credit unions need each other the most. Certainly, there are some credit unions that are doing extraordinarily well in these rough economic times, so as cooperatives these institutions should be sharing their success stories to nurture replication and strengthen the system as a whole. Even if you’re not inclined to mushy sentiment about the credit union movement and philosophy, just examine the NCUSIF. The last year has demonstrated how much all credit unions are interconnected. The impact on participants in the deposit insurance funds is not just reserved for federally insured credit unions; just look at the situation of the FDIC-insured banks and the premiums leveled against ASI clients as well. There is no escaping some of the interconnectivity of credit unions without escaping the charter, and different, yet similar, problems await there.

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