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A Fly On the Wall

First of all, my apologies to any NCUA personnel who feel that the following makes light of their hard and dedicated work to frustrate the masses. I mean to “further” the masses. How did “frustrate” get in there? That was a typo. Honest. I have the utmost respect for our NCUA regulators – in fact, I love them from the bottom of their hooves to the tops of their pitchforks.

The following was (rumored) to be a transcript from a recent executive meeting at the NCUA. It was attended by three people whose names are unknown. It also includes one person called the “voice of reason” (VOR), which obviously indicates that it was not an official meeting.

Person 1: “Shall we get started? Our first discussion point today is on the new risk-based capital rule. So where are we on that?”

Person 2: “It appears that there was some slight disagreement. A few letters were received in protest.”

VOR: “Just a few letters? That’s like saying that there were a few complainers during the Spanish Inquisition.”

Person 3: “Apparently, there are some who claim that we are just trying to drive credit unions out of the mortgage and business loan markets.”

Person 1: “How did they find out?”

Person 2: “No – remember. We advocate FREE markets.”

(Laughter erupts.)

Person 3: “Oh gosh, you crack me up. I almost snorted out my caviar and champagne!”

VOR: “Are the regulators trying to divvy up the market?”

Person 2: “No, we are all trying to be equitable. We have mortgage loans to large banks, commercial loans to large banks, business loans to large banks, credit cards to large banks….”

VOR: “I am sensing a trend….”

Person 2: “What else do the letters say?”

VOR: “Some of them claim that the main reason the NCUSIF loses money is because of fraud, not risks addressed by the new rule.”

Person 2: “Who invited him?”

Person 3: “Never mind him. We’ll just open the rule to more comments.”

Person 1: “Isn’t that like asking the executioner what color blindfold to use?”

(Laughter erupts.)

Person 3: “I was talking to Dave over at the CFPB today — just wait until they get the new overdraft rules!”

Person 1: “Really? What do they say?”

Person 3: “Let’s just say overdraft income will become as scarce as an Obama supporter in Texas!”

VOR: “Really? So if we ban or restrict all of these products, what can credit unions do?”

Person 2: “Isn’t that for the free market to decide?”

VOR: “What part of the financial market seems to be free?”

Person 3: “Well, overdrafts will be, when the CFPB gets its way!”

(Laughter and snorting. Even the VOR is getting in the mood.)

Person 1: “Enough already. We need to talk about the real risks of this industry. Those things that could unhinge the entire system!”

VOR: “You mean unfettered regulatory zeal?”

Person 1: “Zeal? We call it prudent conservatism.”

(General laughter erupts.)

Person 2: “Actually, he means the biggest risk we have EVER faced as an industry!”

Person 3: “That’s right – home-based credit unions!”

James Collins is CEO of O Bee Credit Union based in Tumwater, Washington and can be reached at

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