Interest rate risk has been a key topic of discussion within the credit union industry since the Federal Open Market Committee took unprecedented action to drop the effective Fed funds rate to zero in response to the financial crisis of 2008.

Arguably the top priority for each regulatory agency is its concern for how well the industry is positioned for the next rising rate cycle, especially since the Fed revealed last summer that economic activity warranted a reversal of its quantitative easing program and the possibility of a 2015 increase in the short-term funds rate. A recent article in The Wall Street Journal highlighted this heightened concern over rising rate risks, placing a particular emphasis on net economic value sensitivities.

Ironically, for several reasons, higher market rate conditions actually appear to present the best long-term earnings performance scenario for many small to mid-sized credit unions. Also, current observations of the industry reveal that many credit unions face significant income challenges under flat- and falling-rate conditions, both of which are still very plausible scenarios. This presents a problem as credit unions cannot maintain or increase income and hedge net economic value.

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