Dedicated to Deposits: Deals, Data, and Discussion

Safety of Credit Unions?

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Most of the focus of the mortgage crisis has been on banks, but according to this WSJ article, credit unions are also experiencing some major mortgage-related losses. However, the credit unions mentioned in the article are not the ones we deal with. They're corporate credit unions which serve regular credit unions by providing investment services.

The article described five corporate credit unions which reported $5.7 billion in "unrealized" losses as of the end of May. It also describes how there is an effort to reclassify the losses and downplay their importance.

Individual credit union members appear to be mostly insulated from these problems. Regular credit unions that have deposited money with the corporate credit unions could see losses if the corporates fail. According to the article the last time a corporate credit union failed was in 1995, and the regular credit unions were eventually able recover their money.

The article mentions that 9 regular credit unions have failed this year. However, many of these failures have been tiny credit unions. The last one that failed was Port Trust FCU which had assets of only $461,000 (see NCUA press release).

The major regular credit unions seem to be healthy based on their recent financial ratings. Here are a few of the largest credit unions in the US (source) and their ratings based on 3/31/08 data:
The vast majority of credit unions are federally insured by the NCUA, and this insurance is very similar to what the FDIC provides for bank deposits. I have more info and references on NCUA insurance in this post. Whether your deposits are held at banks or credit unions, it makes sense to stay under the federal insurance limits.

Thanks to the reader who mentioned this WSJ article in the finding the best deals post.

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Comments
3 comments.
Comment #1 by Puma (anonymous) posted on
Puma
Why the big difference concerning Alliant CU?

Bankrate scores a 3.

Bauer scores a 5.

Any theories?

1
Comment #2 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Is there a way to find out which individual credit unions are members of the corporate credit unions mentioned in the WSJ article?

1