Recognizing the need for everyone to "shoulder some of the load" of the nation's savings and loan crisis, Utah bankers aren't pleased about the apparent lack of participation by credit unions in the $90 billion proposed bail-out plan.
Officials from both industries claim credit unions already have an advantage of not having to pay federal taxes and shouldn't be allowed to avoid the nationwide rescue of sinking savings and loans, too."Why just banks (and savings and loans) and not all federal depository institutions doesn't seem fair," said Lawrence Alder, executive vice president of the Utah Bankers Association.
"I hope to see some pressure put on the credit unions," added Paul Neuenschwander, president of the Utah League of Insured Savings Institutions.
President George Bush announced a plan Monday to finance the closure or sale of some 350 insolvent S&Ls across the country. Federal regulators said the proposal wouldn't immediately affect efforts to market three Utah savings and loans - American Savings, Deseret Federal and MountainWest Savings.
Part of the Bush plan would require the nation's banks to increase their deposit insurance premiums from 83 cents to more than $1.50 for every $1,000 on deposit. Bush didn't detail the increase savings and loans would have to pay, and participation by credit unions was not mentioned.
But, a spokesman for Utah League of Credit Unions said credit unions took care of themselves when their industry saw problems with its deposit insurance in the early 1980s and shouldn't have to waste that effort on competitors.
"That would send out a message that self-help is not worth anything; that the government will take care of you anyway," said Chris Kerecman, the league's director of government affairs.
He explained that the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund, to which all of Utah's 200 credit unions belong, is so healthy it has been paying its members dividends rather than increasing assessments.
"They can't take back that progress," Kerecman said, noting the industry sent the message to Bush early on that credit unions "want to be left alone."
Credit unions can't avoid it entirely, however, as all taxpayers, including credit union depositors, will be called on to help pay off Bush's proposed plan to salvage the country's savings and loans.
"It's a serious problem and we will all have to shoulder some of the load," Alder said.
With that, he added that all deposit insurance funds should be involved and not just two.
"If credit unions can be allowed to offer the same products and services as other institutions, they should be required to participate," Alder said, noting the Bush plan is preliminary and parts of it could change.
He explained that banks also tried to send the message to the administration that it didn't want any part of the rescue, but that apparently didn't get across.
Utah's healthy S&Ls aren't anxious either about lending a hand to troubled fellow institutions around the country.
Neuenschwander said an increased premium puts another burden on profitable institutions already operating on razor-thin margins in a dragging economy.
"I don't know if savings and loans can pay more than what they are paying," he said.
Both banks and savings and loans have few alternatives but to pass the premium increase on to customers or lower savings rates to cover the extra cost, said George Sutton, Utah commissioner of financial institutions.