total investments & quarterly growth chart Source: Callahan’s Peer-to-Peer Analytics

Share balances at credit unions increased 12.7% over the 2021 calendar year, topping $1.8 trillion for the first time ever in the fourth quarter and more than double industry totals from a decade ago. Still, deposit growth has slowed from pandemic peaks. Share balances increased 2.4% quarter-over-quarter, which was above the historical norm but well below the quarterly rates realized throughout the pandemic. It’s not a surprise that share growth is waning compared to 2020, when unprecedented fiscal and monetary stimulus drove millions of dollars into member share accounts, many of which sat waiting for economic reopening. These shares created a surge in liquidity at many credit unions, leading to compressed industry interest spreads. Entering 2022, the industry’s outlook is more optimistic. Lending is at record highs – especially in the consumer space – as demand has allowed credit unions to repurpose some of these new shares into productive loans. However, while balance sheets may be showing signs of stabilization, the huge influx of funds in 2020 still poses ongoing macroeconomic challenges in the present day – namely, inflation.

In recent months, markets have been focused on the Federal Reserve and its response to inflation. The December Federal Open Market Committee meeting confirmed the common expectation that tapering would end in March, and three rate hikes were forecast in 2022. The January FOMC meeting was even more eventful, with the Fed signaling that five rate hikes is now the consensus expectation for 2022, and the door was left open for even more. If realized, these increases would push the Federal Funds rate to the 1.25%-1.50% range in a relatively short period of time.

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