Catalyst News

NAFCU Chief Economist Curt Long on Key Industry Trends & Collaboration with the Fed

by Catalyst Corporate | Jun 04, 2019

Market volatility, auto loan portfolio trends and the latest from the Federal Reserve – these are currently some of the most pressing topics for the credit union industry, according to Curt Long, NAFCU Chief Economist and Vice President of Research and a presenter at Catalyst Corporate’s upcoming 2019 Economic & Payments Forum. Long recently shared some of his insights with Catalyst Corporate:

What are some of the major initiatives you’ve been working on this year?

“NAFCU has been meeting with some of the Federal Reserve Banks this year. So far, we’ve met with the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. Two of the three banks are voting members on the FOMC this year, and one will be a voting member next year,” said Long.

Long, along with several NAFCU members, met with the president of each bank to discuss key economic factors affecting today’s market. “All in all, we’ve shared our honest and frank views and had very stimulating conversations about the economy,” he added.

The purpose of these meetings is to connect on common issues, share strategies and establish open dialogue around some of the financial industry’s primary initiatives.

“The Boston and Chicago Federal Reserve Banks are spearheading the real-time payments initiative, which is a major area of focus for NAFCU advocacy efforts,” Long noted. “We have plans to meet with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago in August.”

Other key takeaways have formed from these collaborative discussions with the Fed. “Inflation is weak and rates are low. That’s not a new problem, but it continues to be an issue for any financial institution. Everyone has a slightly different approach they would like to execute, so it’s beneficial to see the full range of solutions,” Long said.

From an economist’s point of view, these highly-insightful meetings have given Long a few things to “chew over” in regard to both the present and future state of the economy. “We’re thinking about what a lot of people are thinking about, which is the next recession and how that might play out,” said Long.

In your opinion, how does recent market volatility translate to credit unions?

“We know the markets are on edge, and there’s been more volatility this year. But, the thing we try to stress is that markets are not the economy. Even though we’ve seen some volatility, it does not necessarily mean a recession is looming,” Long said.

Some economic indicators don’t match the projected fears in today’s marketplace. In fact, a lot of the economic fundamentals are still pretty strong, he added.

What is your take on auto loan trends within the credit union industry?

“Although overall sales have slowed over the last year, auto loan growth within the credit union industry is still very strong. This speaks to credit unions grabbing market share,” said Long.

In other words, credit unions are doing a great job of marketing these programs and capturing consumer dollars, even at a time when car sales aren’t growing at the same rate, he said. For this reason, Long urges credit unions to continue to be aware of marketplace opportunities.

For more on this topic, don’t miss Long’s presentation at the Economic & Payments Forum on Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019. Registration is now open under Learning Center/Conferences/Forum.