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​​​​ HISTORY OF THE CREDIT UNION SYSTEM
 
 
 
 

ImageDateEvent
1901

Alphonse Desjardins brings credit unions to North America as the Canadian journalist organizes La Caisse Populaire de Levis (The People's Bank of Levis) in his home in Levis, Quebec. The first deposit was just 10 cents.

1909

St. Mary's Cooperative Credit Association, the first U.S. credit union, opens on April 6, 1909, in Manchester, New Hampshire, with assistance from Alphonse Desjardins.

1909

Massachusetts Bank Commissioner Pierre Jay and wealthy Boston merchant Edward A. Filene join forces to enact the Massachusetts Credit Union Act, the first general statute for establishing credit unions in the United States. For his efforts, Filene earns the moniker "Father of U.S. Credit Unions."

1920

Filene hires 40-year-old Massachusetts attorney Roy F. Bergengren to energize and expand a fledgling credit union movement. Bergengren is credited with developing today's credit union system.

1921

Filene and Bergengren organize the Credit Union National Extension Bureau, an association focused on forming new credit unions, enacting state laws to charter credit unions, and promoting the philosophy of credit unions. Between 1921 and 1935, 38 states and the District of Columbia enact credit union laws.

The number of U.S. credit unions reaches 199 in 1921 and grows to 3,000 by 1935.

1929

The stock market crash of 1929 causes a financial crisis that ultimately leads to the Great Depression.

At the height of the Great Depression, personal income, tax revenue, profits, and prices drop significantly, while international trade plunges by more than 50 percent. Unemployment in the U.S. rises to more than 25 percent.

1932

Bergengren meets with U.S. Senator Morris Sheppard of Texas to discuss the need to organize credit unions under federal law. Bergengren believes a U.S. law permitting federal credit unions to organize is imperative.

"A federal credit union law would be a sort of blanket insurance policy for all our state laws, giving us an alternative method of organization," Bergengren writes.

1934

On May 10, the U.S. Senate adopts a bill drafted by Sheppard and Bergengren to allow the chartering of federal credit unions.

Wright Patman, a Congressman from Texas, introduces a bill in the House of Representatives allowing for the creation of credit unions anywhere in the United States.

On June 14, in the final minutes of the 73rd Congress, pressured by Bergengren, Alabama constituents and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, House Banking Committee Chairman Henry Steagall walks onto the House floor at 7:15 p.m. and asks the full House to consider, by unanimous consent, a Senate-approved, House-amended federal credit union bill.

Before the allotted 30-minute debate expires, the House passes the bill with only two dissenting votes. When the bill reaches the Senate floor at 8:30 p.m., Sheppard asks for unanimous consent to pass the federal credit union bill “as amended, unread.” No one objects and the bill passes.

President Roosevelt signs the Federal Credit Union Act into law on June 26.

The newly created Federal Credit Union Division is placed in the Farm Credit Administration, the agency responsible for addressing the financial problems facing rural America.

Bergengren compiles a list of leading credit union activists to head the new division. On July 16, he sends a telegram to his first choice, Claude Orchard, an Omaha executive at Armour & Company. Orchard responds immediately and is appointed as director several days later.

As head of the Federal Credit Union Division, Orchard encourages the organization of both federal and state-chartered credit unions.

Orchard leads the Federal Credit Union Division for 19 years, focusing primarily on developing the laws and regulations that govern credit unions.

Morris Sheppard Federal Credit Union in Texarkana, Texas, becomes the first federally chartered credit union on October 1.

A Senate report sums up how credit unions fared during the Depression years: 

  • “In the 38 states and the District of Columbia (where credit unions existed), there have been no involuntary liquidations.”
  • “Their record for honest management is exceptional.”
  • “They have proved their durability and have served their members uninterruptedly during the worst depression in our history.”
1940

By the end of 1940, there are 3,756 federal credit unions.

1942

Federal supervision of credit unions is transferred to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

1948

The Federal Credit Union Division is renamed the Bureau of Federal Credit Unions, and is moved from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to the Federal Security Administration.

1952

By 1952, the number of federal credit unions grows to nearly 6,000 with more than 2.8 million members.

1953

J. Dean Gannon becomes director of the Bureau of Federal Credit Unions as it moves to the new Department of Health, Education and Welfare.

Over the next 17 years, the Bureau becomes self-sufficient, financed by fees on federal credit unions.

1960

By the end of 1960, there were 9,905 federal credit unions with 6.1 million members and $2.7 billion in assets.

1970

Congress creates the National Credit Union Administration as an independent agency to charter and supervise federal credit unions.

The National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund is also formed, insuring share deposits at federally insured credit unions up to $20,000. Until this point, credit unions had operated without federal deposit insurance.

Lieutenant General Herman Nickerson, Jr., becomes the first Administrator of the National Credit Union Administration.

By the end of 1970, there were 12,977 federal credit unions with $8.8 billion in assets and nearly 12 million members.

1971

With the signing of Executive Order 11580 on January 20, President Richard Nixon establishes the original NCUA seal design. This design was the official seal of the agency until 2017.

1974

Legislation increases insurance coverage on credit union member share deposits to $40,000.

Credit unions are able to provide share draft accounts for the first time.

1976

C. Austin Montgomery is appointed NCUA Administrator.

1978

Lawrence Connell is appointed NCUA Administrator.

1979

A three-member Board replaces the NCUA Administrator as the governing body for the agency after Congress updates the Federal Credit Union Act. Board members are nominated and appointed by the President of the United States, and must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Board terms are set for staggered six-year terms, and not more than two members of the Board shall be members of the same political party. In appointing the Board, the president must designate the Chairman.

The first NCUA Board consists of former NCUA Administrator and newly appointed Chairman Lawrence Connell (1979-1981), Dr. Harold A. Black (1979-1981), and Vice Chairman P.A. Mack, Jr (1979-1987).

Congress also creates the Central Liquidity Facility. This facility is similar the Federal Reserve’s Discount Window and serves a similar function—the lender of last resort for the credit union system. The Central Liquidity facility helps ensure greater stability within the credit union system.

Share insurance coverage increases to $100,000 making it equal to the amount of deposit insurance coverage for banks provided by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

For exam and supervision purposes, the NCUA begins rating credit unions using a system called the Early Warning System (EWS). EWS assigned credit unions an overall rating of 1 to 4.

1980

After several years of economic decline in various industrial sectors, credit unions associated with these industries begin to fail. In 1980, there were 251 liquidations of credit unions, costing the Share Insurance Fund nearly $78.6 million.

By the end of 1980, there were 17,350 federally insured credit unions that had nearly $70 billion in assets.

1981

More than 7,000 groups join existing credit unions under NCUA's new multiple select-employee group policy. Membership reaches 28.6 million. Credit union savings rise 20.7 percent, the number of loans grows 17.2 percent and assets increase 19.8 percent during the year. The credit union system's total assets surpass $100 billion.

The NCUA's Central Liquidity Facility and U.S. Central Credit Union, at the time the nation's largest corporate credit union, sign an agreement nearly quadrupling the Central Liquidity Facility's membership and giving 90 percent of credit unions a permanent source of backup liquidity.

Edgar F. Callahan becomes NCUA Board Chairman. He serves until 1985.

1982

With the Share Insurance Fund experiencing stress, the credit union community calls on Congress to approve recapitalizing the fund.

Legislation grants NCUA emergency merger authority and temporary conservatorship authority.

Elizabeth F. Burkhart is appointed to the NCUA Board. She serves from 1982—1990.

1984

The U.S. Postal Service issues a commemorative stamp recognizing the 50th anniversary of the Federal Credit Union Act.

Administration of the Community Development Revolving Loan Fund is transferred to NCUA from the Department of Health and Human Services. Today, the Community Development Revolving Loan Fund provides grants and loans to low-income credit unions.

Federally insured credit unions submit $850 million or 1 percent of system assets to fully capitalize a new, restructured National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund.

1985

Former U.S. Senator Roger W. Jepsen becomes Chairman of the NCUA Board. He serves as Chairman until 1993.

1987

On January 1, Governor Bruce Sundlun announces the Rhode Island Share Deposit Indemnity Corporation is insolvent and declares a "bank holiday" for 35 state-chartered credit unions and 10 state-chartered banks.

Within a week, NCUA notifies 22 of these state-chartered credit unions that they qualify for federal share insurance, following an intense 42-day effort by 32 NCUA staff members. The event precipitates a flood of insurance applications from privately insured credit unions nationwide. A total of 432 state-chartered credit unions will convert to federal insurance coverage by 1991.

NCUA adopts the CAMEL Rating System (Capital, Asset Quality, Management, Earnings and Liquidity) as its rating system for credit unions.

NCUA introduces the Automated Credit Examination System (ACES) as computers become part the examination process.

1988

David Chatfield becomes an NCUA Board Member. He serves until 1989.

1989

Legislation gives the NCUA Board the ability to exercise its powers as successor, conservator and liquidator of credit unions.

The Asset Liquidation and Management Center (ALMC) is created to deal with problem assets NCUA acquired from both operating and liquidating credit unions.

1990

NCUA closes the Region II and Region V liquidation centers and merges them into ALMC to provide greater consistency and improved efficiencies in administrating policies and procedures relative to the liquidation processes.

By the end of 1990, the credit union system has 12,891 federally insured credit unions, $223 billion in assets and 61 million members.

Robert Swan is appointed as an NCUA Board Member. He serves until 1996.

1991

Shirlee Bowné is appointed to the Board. She serves until 1997.

1993

During Norman E. D'Amours first year as Board Chairman, NCUA adds the Office of Corporate Credit Unions and the Office of Community Development Credit Unions. A former Congressman, D'Amours serves as Chairman until 2000.

NCUA moves into its current headquarters located at 1775 Duke Street in Alexandria, Virginia.

1995

The NCUA introduces the Automated Integrated Regulatory Examination System (AIRES). Updated versions of AIRES are still used by federal examiners and state supervisory authorities.

1996

The NCUA Board approves to change the name of Asset Liquidation and Management Center to the Asset Management and Assistance Center to better identify with its increasing role of providing technical services to the NCUA.

AMAC broadens its role to include providing consulting services to the NCUA regional offices on such topics as lending analysis, records reconstruction and fraud investigation. AMAC also provides training to both NCUA and state credit union examiners.

Yolanda T. Wheat is appointed to the NCUA Board. She serves until 2001.

1997

Dennis Dollar is appointed to the Board.

1998

Congress moves quickly after the NCUA and credit unions struggle for two-and-a-half years under a court order and subsequent U.S. Supreme Court decision that prevents field of membership expansions and severely curtails mergers. The result is H.R. 1151, the Credit Union Membership Access Act.

Within days of House and Senate approval, President Bill Clinton signs the Credit Union Membership Access Act into law on August 7, and with it restores expansion privileges and provides for multiple common-bond credit unions.

The Credit Union Membership Access Act requires the NCUA to create a system of prompt corrective action. This system sets the minimal capital ratios that a credit union must maintain and establishes triggers that limit the activities of a federally insured credit union should it drop below these levels.

2000

By the end of 2000, the credit union system has 10,316 federally insured credit unions, nearly $438 billion in assets and more than 77 million members.

Geoff Bacino is appointed to the NCUA Board. He serves from January 2001 until December 2001.

2001

The NCUA implements the risk-based examination-scheduling program and approves collection of quarterly Call Reports to obtain data from credit unions. 

NCUA Board Member Dennis Dollar becomes Chairman. He serves as Chairman until 2004.

2002

Debbie Matz is appointed to the NCUA Board. She serves until 2005.

JoAnn M. Johnson is appointed to the Board.

2004

JoAnn M. Johnson becomes NCUA Board Chairman. She serves as Chairman until July 2008.

The NCUA Board changes the name of the Office of Credit Union Development to the Office of Small Credit Union Initiatives, reflecting the importance the agency places on helping small, low-income and newly chartered credit unions thrive in an ever-changing and competitive financial services marketplace.

2005

Rodney E. Hood is appointed to the Board, and serves as Vice Chairman from 2005 until August 2009.

Christiane “Gigi” Hyland is appointed to the Board. She serves until 2012.

​2007

​The financial crisis that will eventually devastate the nation’s economy and threaten the existence of the credit union system becomes evident. Banks, retirement plans, and investment firms that invested heavily in securities that included subprime mortgages see mounting losses as foreclosures begin to rise and the value of those assets declines. The nation officially enters the recession in December. By official reckoning, the recession—the most severe since the 1930s—runs until June 2009, though the effects would last several years longer. More than 8 million Americans lose their jobs. The net worth of U.S. households and non-profit organizations falls by $15 trillion.

2008

July 29, 2008 – Michael E. Fryzel is sworn in as NCUA Board Chairman. He serves in this role until August 2009.

Sept. 6, 2008 – Mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are placed into conservatorship.

Sept. 15, 2008 – Lehman Brothers files for bankruptcy. Many observers mark this event as the start of the financial crisis of 2008–2009. 

Sept. 30, 2008 – President George W. Bush signs the Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance, and Continuing Appropriations Act, 2008, which contains provisions temporarily removing a cap of $1.5 billion on the Central Liquidity Facility, allowing the facility to borrow up to its authorized limit to lend to credit unions to meet short-term liquidity needs. The lending limit increases to $41.5 billion.

Oct. 3, 2008 – President George W. Bush signs the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, creating the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, and temporarily raises FDIC and the NCUA deposit insurance coverage from $100,000 per depositor to $250,000 per depositor through Dec. 31, 2009.

Oct. 16, 2008 – The NCUA Board approves the Temporary Corporate Credit Union Liquidity Guarantee Program, providing a full faith and credit guarantee of the timely payment of principal and interest on certain unsecured debt of participating corporate credit unions.

Oct. 28, 2008 – The Treasury buys $125 billion worth of preferred stock of nine banks in its first TARP funding wave.

Nov. 20, 2008 – Fannie and Freddie suspend mortgage foreclosures until January 2009.

Dec. 9, 2008 – The NCUA Board approves the creation of the Credit Union System Investment Program and the Homeowners Affordability Relief Program to help credit unions weather increasing financial stress.

Dec. 31, 2008 – Nineteen consumer-owned credit unions failed, at a total loss of $232 million to the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund.

2009

Jan. 28, 2009 – The NCUA Board announces the Temporary Corporate Credit Union Share Guarantee Program, providing a full faith and credit guarantee of uninsured shares at all corporate credit unions through February 2009 and establishing a voluntary guarantee program for uninsured shares of credit unions through December 2010. The Board also approves a $1 billion capital purchase in U.S. Central Federal Credit Union.

Feb. 17, 2009 – President Barack Obama signs the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

March 20, 2009 – The NCUA Board conserves the two largest corporate credit unions: U.S. Central Federal Credit Union and Western Corporate Federal Credit Union. These conservatorships were necessary to manage catastrophic losses on investments, while sustaining critical liquidity and payment services to consumer-owned credit unions.

May 21, 2009 – The NCUA Board revises and extends the Temporary Corporate Credit Union Liquidity Guarantee Program to cover unsecured debt obligations issued on or before June 30, 2010 and maturing on or before June 30, 2017.

Aug. 24, 2009 – Debbie Matz becomes Chairman of the NCUA Board. She served as Chairman until May 2016. Michael Fryzel continues to serve as a NCUA Board Member until August 2014.

Dec. 16, 2009 – President Barack Obama signs the Fiscal Year 2010 Consolidated Appropriations Act. This act includes two provisions for credit unions. The Central Liquidity Facility secured full lending authority for 2010, allowing the facility to continue to meet the liquidity needs of credit unions. In addition, the appropriation for the Community Development Revolving Loan Fund was increased by $250,000 to $1.25 million.

Dec. 31, 2009 – In 2009, 27 consumer-owned credit unions failed, costing the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund $150 million.

2010

July 21, 2010 – President Barack Obama signs into law the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act that made permanent the $250,000 insurance protection for shares and deposits.

Sept. 24, 2010 – The NCUA Board announces the Corporate System Resolution Program, a multi-stage plan for stabilizing the corporate credit union system, conserving an additional three corporate credit unions, providing short-term and long-term funding to resolve a portfolio of residential mortgage-backed securities, commercial mortgage-backed securities, other asset-backed securities and corporate bonds held by the failed corporate credit unions, and establishing a new regulatory framework for corporate credit unions,

Oct. 1, 2010 – U.S. Central Federal Credit Union and Western Corporate Federal Credit Union are placed into liquidation. U.S. Central Bridge Corporate Federal Credit Union and Western Bridge Corporate Federal Credit Union, which were chartered by the NCUA, assume certain operations of U.S. Central Corporate Federal Credit Union and Western Corporate Federal Credit Union. The two bridge corporate credit unions were created to prevent disruption of vital services to consumer-owned credit unions and facilitate an orderly wind-down over 24 months.

Oct. 4, 2010 – The NCUA hires national personal finance expert Suze Orman as part of a national public information campaign to inform credit union members and the public about the safety of credit union share deposits insured by the NCUA. During the campaign, more than 190 million Americans learn that federally insured credit unions are a safe place to save.

Oct. 27, 2010 – The NCUA finalizes the first NCUA Guaranteed Note sale. The NCUA Guaranteed Notes program provided long-term funding for billions of dollars of legacy assets formerly held in the securities portfolios of the failed corporate credit unions.

Oct. 31, 2010 – Members United Corporate Federal Credit Union and Southwest Corporate Federal Credit Union are placed into liquidation.

Nov. 30, 2010 – Constitution Corporate Federal Credit Union is placed into liquidation.

Dec. 31, 2010 – In 2010, 28 consumer-owned credit unions failed, resulting in $229 million in losses to the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund.

At the end of 2010, there were 7,339 credit unions with more than $914 billion in assets and nearly 90.5 million members.

2011

Jan. 1, 2011 – The NCUA established the Office of Minority and Women Inclusion that works to ensure equal opportunities for everyone in NCUA’s workforce programs and contracts. The office also assesses the diversity policies and practices of credit unions regulated by the NCUA.

March 9, 2011 – NCUA launches MyCreditUnion.gov, a website that provides consumers of all ages with in-depth personal finance information.

June 20, 2011 – The NCUA becomes the first federal financial institutions regulator to file suit in federal court against Wall Street firms to recover losses from sales of faulty mortgage-backed securities. The first lawsuits are filed against J.P Morgan Securities LLC and RBS Securities Inc. The agency will eventually file 26 suits against 32 defendants in federal courts in California, Kansas, and New York related to corporate credit union losses. Net recoveries to date exceed $5.1 billion.

2012

April 11, 2012 – The NCUA launches a financial literacy micro-site, Pocket Cents, which provided information about the benefits of credit unions and the importance of making smart financial decisions. Pocket Cents was merged into MyCreditUnion.gov at the end of 2018.

June 1, 2012 – Federally insured credit union assets exceed $1 trillion for the first time.

July 6, 2012 – The NCUA closes Western Bridge Corporate Federal Credit Union

Aug. 12, 2012 – To streamline the low-income designation approval process, the NCUA notifies more than 1,000 federal credit unions directly of their eligibility. The designation provides several benefits, including access to supplemental capital, eligibility for loans and grants from the Community Development Revolving Loan Fund, ability to provide unlimited member business loans, and assistance from the NCUA. By the end of 2012, 690 additional federal credit unions with 7.5 million members and nearly $65.9 billion in assets accept designation a low-income credit union.

Oct. 29, 2012 – The NCUA closes U.S. Central Bridge Corporate Federal Credit Union.

Nov. 2, 2012 – The NCUA makes the last payment under the Temporary Corporate Credit Union Liquidity Guarantee Program related to the maturity of the asset management estates’ medium-term notes.

Nov. 11, 2012 – The NCUA develops and implements the National Supervision Policy Manual. The manual created uniform operations and procedures for supervision throughout the country and improved the agency’s ability to operate efficiently across regions.

Dec. 31, 2012 – The last of the special liquidity guarantee programs put into place during the financial crisis, the Temporary Corporate Credit Union Share Guarantee program, expires.

2013

Jan. 1, 2013 – The Office of National Examinations and Supervision begins operations. This office supervises the nation’s corporate credit unions and the largest consumer credit unions—those with $10 billion or more in assets.

Jan. 4, 2018 – The NCUA obtains more than $1.42 billion in gross recoveries from the U.S. government’s historic settlement with JPMorgan Chase for selling faulty mortgage-backed securities to five corporate credit unions that failed in 2008–2010.

Jan. 6, 2013 – To reduce regulatory burdens, NCUA changes the definition of a small, non-complex credit union to those entities with less than $50 million in assets, up from the prior $10 million in assets threshold.

Aug. 14, 2013 – Rick Metsger joins the NCUA Board.

Sept. 23, 2018 – NCUA files suit against 13 international banks alleging violations of federal and state anti-trust laws through their manipulating of interest rates in the London Interbank Offered Rate system, or LIBOR. 

Dec. 31, 2013 – The NCUA first reports the entire projected range of remaining assessments is negative, indicating no need for future assessments and the potential for a distribution of surplus funds.

2014

Jan. 1, 2014 – Corporate credit unions convert from the Corporate Rating Information System (CRIS) to the CAMEL rating system. The change reduces the number of complexities in supervising the corporate system and the consumer credit union system, streamlines reporting and provides a uniform measure of performance.

Jan. 23, 2014 – The NCUA Board approves a final rule allowing certain well-managed federal credit unions to utilize derivatives as a risk-management tool.

April 24, 2014 – The NCUA Board adopts a rule requiring stress testing and capital planning for credit unions with more than $10 billion in assets.

Aug. 26, 2014 – J. Mark McWatters is sworn in as a member of the NCUA Board. He will serve as a Board Member until January 23, 2017.

Sept. 18, 2018 – Rick Metsger is designated as Vice Chairman of the NCUA Board. He will serve in this role until May 1, 2016.

Dec. 31, 2014 – First calendar year-end that the Stabilization Fund shows a positive net position of $0.2 billion, up from a peak deficit of $7.5 billion.

​2015

​April 30, 2015 – The NCUA Board approves a final rule that more clearly defines which associational groups qualify for membership in federal credit unions. As a result, 12 categories of associational groups can be added to a federal credit union’s field of membership without the credit union having to provide information that these groups are valid associations.

July 23, 2015 – The NCUA Board approves a final rule eliminating the regulatory cap on investments in fixed assets.

Sept. 17, 2015 – The NCUA Board approves a final rule that raises the asset ceiling for what is defined as a small credit union from $50 million to $100 million.

Oct. 15, 2015 – The NCUA Board approves a final rule updating the agency’s risk-based capital requirements.

​2016

​Feb. 18, 2016 – The NCUA Board approves a final rule that changes the agency’s regulations governing member business lending and provides credit unions with greater latitude to make commercial lending decisions.

May 2, 2016 – Rick Metsger is designated Chairman of the NCUA Board by President Barack Obama. He serves in this capacity until January 22, 2017.

July 21, 2016 – The NCUA Board removes the requirement that all federally insured, state-chartered credit unions with more than $250 million in assets and every federal credit union be examined each calendar year.

Oct. 24, 2016 – NCUA fully repays $1 billion of outstanding borrowing from the U.S Treasury. The NCUA’s $6 billion borrowing line with Treasury remains available to satisfy future agency contingent funding needs, including obligations of the NGNs.

Oct. 27, 2016 – The NCUA Board approves comprehensive changes to the agency’s field-of-membership regulations, allowing more Americans to become eligible for credit union membership.

Nov. 17, 2016 – The NCUA approves the implementation of an extended examination cycle for well-managed, low-risk federal credit unions with assets of less than $1 billion.

​2017

​Jan. 23, 2017 – President Donald J. Trump designates J. Mark McWatters as Acting Chairman. He would later become NCUA Board Chairman on June 23, 2017. Rick Metsger continues to serve on the NCUA Board as a Board Member.

July 20, 2017 – The NCUA Board proposes to close the Temporary Corporate Credit Union Stabilization Fund four years ahead of the previously anticipated 2021 closure date.

July 21, 2017 – The NCUA announces that it is restructuring the agency to improve its efficiency and effectiveness. Specially, the NCUA will consolidate its regional structure by closing its offices in Albany, New York, and Atlanta, Georgia, by the end of 2018. The agency also consolidated its credit union development, grants and loans, minority depository institutions programs, and chartering and field-of-membership functions into new Office of Credit Union Resources and Expansion, along with other improvements.

Sept. 28, 2017 – The NCUA Board gives final approval to the plan to close the Stabilization Fund on Oct. 1, 2017

Oct. 19, 2017 – The NCUA Board approves final rules enhancing the appeals process for credit unions if they have issues or concerns with agency decisions and supervisory determinations.

Dec. 11, 2017 – President Donald J. Trump signs an Executive Order establishing the new official seal for the NCUA. The new design brings the agency’s seal more in line with the official seals of other federal financial services regulators.

​2018

​Feb. 15, 2018 – The NCUA Board approves a Share Insurance Fund distribution of $736 million to eligible federally insured credit unions that will be paid in the third quarter of 2018.

April 19, 2018 – The NCUA Board approves a final rule reducing regulatory burdens on federally insured credit unions with assets of $10 billion or greater by removing certain current capital planning and stress testing requirements.

June 21, 2018 – The NCUA Board approves a final rule to provide members of federally insured credit unions with greater transparency when those credit unions seek voluntary mergers.

July 23, 2018 – The NCUA begins paying dividends to more than 5,700 institutions eligible for the $735.7 million Share Insurance distribution.

​2019​The NCUA’s Albany and Atlanta regional offices close.

​​​​A Brief History of Credit Unio​ns

 


Leadership history​​​​

For more than 100 years, credit unions have provided financial services to their members in the United States. Credit unions are unique depository institutions created not for profit, but to serve their members as credit cooperatives.

The earliest financial cooperatives date back to the beginning of 19th century in England. A few decades later, credit unions took root in Germany. Organized by Herman Schulze-Delitzsch and Friedrich Raiffeisen, these early credit unions became the model for today’s credit unions in the United States. Distinguishing features of these German credit unions included:

  • Democratic governance;
  • Each member has one vote, regardless of the size of the member’s deposits;
  • Member-elected board of directors; and
  • Volunteer based.

The crop failure and famine of 1846 caused Schulze-Delitzsch to organize a cooperatively-owned mill and bakery that sold bread to its members at substantial savings. Schulze-Delitzsch took this cooperative notion to address the needs of credit, too. In 1850, he organized the first cooperative credit society, known as the people’s bank.

Raiffeisen sought to provide credit to farmers. He formed the Heddesdorf Credit Union in 1864 to help German farmers purchase livestock, equipment, seeds and other farming needs.

In 1900, at the start of the 20th century, the credit union concept crossed the Atlantic to Levis, Quebec, where Alphonse Desjardins organized La Caisse Populaire de Levis. A court reporter, Desjardins became aware of loan sharks charging outrageous interest. In response, he organized this first credit union in North America to provide affordable credit to working class families.

Nearly a decade later, Desjardins helped a group of Franco-American Catholics in Manchester, New Hampshire, organize St. Mary’s Cooperative Credit Association. This first credit union in the United States opened its doors in 1909.

As a result of the efforts of Edward Filene, a merchant and philanthropist, and Pierre Jay, the Massachusetts Banking Commissioner, the Massachusetts Credit Union Act became law April 15, 1909. The Massachusetts law served as a basis for subsequent state credit union laws and the Federal Credit Union Act, which became law 25 years later.

During the 1920s, the U.S. credit union movement became increasingly popular. Families had more money to save and could afford products like automobiles and washing machines. They, however, needed a source of inexpensive credit to purchase these goods. The popularity of credit unions grew because commercial banks and savings institutions generally showed limited interested in offering such consumer loans.

In 1920, Edward Filene hired Roy Bergengren, a poverty lawyer, to manage the Massachusetts Credit Union Association and to promote the development of credit unions. Within a year, Massachusetts chartered 19 new credit unions

Encouraged by this success, Filene organized and Bergengren managed a national association—the Credit Union National Extension Bureau—to promote the establishment of credit unions throughout the United States. By 1925, 26 states had enacted laws to charter credit unions. By 1930, 32 states had adopted credit union laws with a total 1,100 credit unions

In 1934, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Federal Credit Union Act into law, creating a national system to charter and to supervise federal credit unions. The credit union movement grew steadily in the 1940s and 1950s. By 1960, credit union membership amounted to more than 6 million individuals belonging to more than 10,000 federal credit unions.

In 1970, the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) became an independent federal agency. Congress also created the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF) to protect deposits at credit unions.

The 1970s also brought major changes in the products offered by financial institutions. Credit unions, too, found they needed to expand their services. In 1977, federal legislation allowed U.S. credit unions to offer new services to their members, including share certificates and mortgages.

U.S. credit unions grew tremendously during the 1970s. The number of credit union members more than doubled during the decade, and credit union assets tripled to more than $65 billion.

Deregulation, increased flexibility in merger and field of membership criteria, and expanded member services characterized changes in the 1980s for U.S. credit unions. Early in the decade, high interest rates and unemployment brought supervisory changes and insurance losses, as well.

With the NCUSIF experiencing financial stress, the credit union community called on Congress to approve a recapitalization plan. In 1985, federally insured credit unions recapitalized the NCUSIF—a federal fund backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. Government—by depositing 1 percent of their shares.

Throughout the 1990s and into the start of the 21st century, U.S. credit unions continued to expand as a group. Because few credit unions failed, the NCUSIF also prospered. Then the nation’s credit union industry faced profound and unprecedented threats to its stability in 2008 and 2009. A steep drop in global financial markets triggered the most severe economic downturn since the Great Depression.

The resulting cascade of job losses, bankruptcies, and home foreclosures exerted pressure on the entire American financial services sector—including credit unions. From the onset of the crisis, NCUA took decisive action and worked in concert with Congress, the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the Federal Reserve and other authorities to safeguard the U.S. credit union system

Many of the largest corporate credit unions in the United States, however, invested in troubled mortgage-backed securities that experienced dramatic, unprecedented declines in value, effectively rendering five of these institutions insolvent. The loss to the U.S. credit union system was sizable.

NCUA acted quickly to reduce the total losses resulting from the failure of these five wholesale corporate credit unions—U.S. Central Corporate, Western Corporate, Southwest Corporate, Members United Corporate, and Constitution Corporate. Specifically, the agency worked with Congress and U.S. Treasury Department to establish the Temporary Corporate Credit Union Stabilization Fund (Stabilization Fund) to protect the NCUSIF and the stability of U.S. credit unions. Insured credit unions, not taxpayers, will pay back the costs of the Stabilization Fund over time.

In responding to the corporate credit union crisis, NCUA also took the following actions:

  • After placing the five failed corporate credit unions into liquidation, NCUA re-securitized the problematic mortgage-backed securities that caused the failures and sold these notes in the marketplace with a government-backed guarantee.
  • NCUA established a temporary share guarantee for deposits at corporate credit unions.
  • NCUA established bridge corporate credit unions in conservatorship to ensure the services provided to consumer credit unions continued during the resolution and transition period.
  • NCUA worked with members of the bridge corporate credit unions to transition services to new entities where possible.

Even as NCUA managed the corporate credit union crisis, the agency dealt with the declining fortunes of a number of consumer-owned credit unions. While the U.S. credit union system remained strong overall during the financial crisis, consumer-owned credit unions in several regions weakened as a result of spikes in home foreclosures, business failures, and unemployment. A number of these credit unions failed.

To protect against the failure of more credit unions, NCUA implemented a “red flag” early warning system to detect problems in individual credit unions before they became insurmountable. As part of this strategy, NCUA adopted a 12-month examination cycle for federally insured credit unions. NCUA also began to step up administrative actions wherever necessary to ensure prompt compliance. By year-end 2009, more than 96 percent of credit unions met the statutory definition of “well capitalized.”

Today, the U.S. credit union system continues to overcome economic challenges, but the industry has also demonstrated its resilience. NCUA also continues to work, enhancing a credit union system that is safe, sound, secure and serving more Americans than ever before.



9/26/2018 12:53 PM