Looking for a ray of sunshine these days? Consider this…credit unions are in a much stronger financial position to weather the COVID-19 pandemic and the looming economic fall-out versus the Great Recession of 2007-2009. According to the quarterly Trendwatch report from Callahan & Associates, as of March 31, assets held in the United States stood at $1,663.3 billion and capital registered at $193.4 billion – double those respective positions on Dec. 31, 2007. Member relationships were also stronger than those recorded in 2007, proving that at least some lessons were learned from that recession event.
There were also some bright spots in Q1 2020 metrics. Credit unions notched the largest ever quarterly net liquidity increase in Q1 2020 to $50 billion, providing lots of flexibility for strategic moves. This liquidity enabled credit unions to extend an additional $5 billion in credit card lines in the first quarter compared to the fourth quarter of 2019.
Buoyed by consumer confidence early in the first quarter, first time mortgages accounted for over a third of the quarter’s originations. Fixed rate mortgages more than doubled from Q1 2019 to Q1 2020, reflecting historically low interest rates. But a cloud did darken overall loan growth by 1.2 percent for the 12 months ending March 31, 2020 compared to the 12 months ending March 31, 2019.