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Catalyst Connect Archives


Catalyst Connect – November 14, 2017     
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Catalyst Connect – November 7, 2017     
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    Analyzing the Yield Curve: On October 27, the 10-year Treasury closed the week at 2.38 percent, and the 2-year Treasury closed at 1.60 percent. That's a difference of 0.78 percent. As the spread between yields on the 2-year and the 10-year U.S. Treasury notes continues to narrow, one Catalyst Corporate Senior Investment Officer explains what this means for credit unions.

    TranzCapture Enhancements Today: Catalyst Corporate will introduce several new features to the TranzCapture remote deposit services platform today. Please watch your email for important details!

    Security Update Reminder: Catalyst Corporate is committed to protecting member data and ensuring the safety of its communications network. As of February 1, 2018, Catalyst Corporate will discontinue support for older Transport Layer Security (TLS) software versions – TLS 1.0 and TLS 1.1. This action supports enhanced security and prevention of potential vulnerabilities.

    Election Day: Tuesday, November 7 is Election Day in the U.S., and Texas voters will see two credit union-centric ballot measures. Proposition 2 is the first general update to the home equity lending law in 20 years, and Proposition 7 addresses prize-linked accounts at financial institutions.

    Upcoming Training Opportunities: Funds Transfer Services (Nov. 8), Corporate Checking & Positive Pay (Nov. 15), Regulation CC Changes (Dec. 6) and CUBG’s Business Lending Bootcamp (Portland, OR, Dec. 5-6).



Catalyst Connect – October 31, 2017     
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    Alleviating Liquidity Stress: A notable trend in the credit union world is the rise – and success – of loan participation programs. At the recent Economic Forum, Catalyst Corporate's VP, Member Credit discussed how loan participation programs may help credit unions as the lending landscape continues to change.

    Harnessing the Power of Deposits: An entire generation only knows extremely low interest rates on loans and near-zero deposit dividend rates. See why Catalyst Strategic Solutions' Manager of ALM Client Services thinks this poses a unique challenge for credit unions, and how to safeguard credit unions from potential funding shortfalls.

    One-Stop Shop for ACH: The latest issue of the ACH Advisor, a resource for ACH operational information, is available online. Learn more about dishonored, corrected and contested returns and what NACHA rules require for processing over the holidays.

    November Training and Education: Funds Transfer Services (Nov. 8) and Corporate Checking & Positive Pay (Nov. 15).



Catalyst Connect – October 24, 2017     
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    Risk Management Culture: Risk management is paramount in the financial system, and it’s part of everyone’s job at a credit union, said Catalyst Strategic Solutions’ vice president of investment sales at Catalyst Corporate's Economic Forum earlier this month. Read more insights from his presentation, Developing a Risk Management Culture.”

    Early Warning Q&A: There’s an easy way to reduce theft and protect members from fraudulent checking activity – Early Warning™ Deposit Chek® real-time deposit fraud protection – available for branch, teller, business, mobile, ATM and ITM capture. Got questions? Catalyst Corporate has answers!

    Photo Gallery: Want to see photos from Catalyst Corporate's 40th annual Economic Forum? Visit facebook.com/CatalystCorpFCU and check out the Forum photo album. Be sure to tag yourself and your peers!

    Upcoming Training and Education: ACH Rules - Audit Requirements (Oct. 25), Funds Transfer Service (Nov. 8) and Corporate Checking & Positive Pay (Nov. 15).



Catalyst Connect – October 17, 2017     
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    Forty Years of Forum: Earlier this month, more than 250 credit union leaders gathered at Catalyst Corporate's 40th annual Economic Forum. There were a lot of economic insights and forecasts from Wall Street to Main Street, but Catalyst Corporate's EVP of Member Relations says some of the highlights weren't found in the charts or graphs on stage…

    No Recession; No Problem! Without fear of a near-term recession, credit unions can continue to count on strong loan growth – at least according to former CUNA chief economist and Economic Forum fan-favorite, Bill Hampel. Read more economic insights from his presentation.

    The Benefits of SimpliCD: SimpliCD is a Certificate of Deposit Purchasing and Issuing program available through Catalyst Corporate. Catalyst Corporate's investment officer and CD specialist explains some of the ways your credit union may be able to benefit from this service.

    Celebrate International Credit Union Day Oct. 19: International Credit Union Day celebrates the spirit of the global credit union movement, promotes its achievements and recognizes the hard work and shared member experiences. Check out this video from Catalyst Corporate's members wishing YOU a happy International Credit Union Day!

    Fall Training Opportunities: Deposit Chek® Reports on TranZact (Oct 18), ACH Rules - Audit Requirements (Oct. 25), Funds Transfer Service (Nov. 8) and Corporate Checking & Positive Pay (Nov. 15).



Catalyst Connect – October 10, 2017     
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    What’s Happening in the Economy? Thomas Siems, assistant vice president at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, presented, “What’s Going on in the Economy? In Search of a One-Handed Economist,” last week at Catalyst Corporate’s Economic Forum. So, how is the Fed doing? “Well, that depends," Siems said. "On the one hand…”

    Only 355 Days to Go… Catalyst Corporate's 40th Annual Economic Forum is in the books, but you'll want a sneak peek now at the 41st annual Economic Forum! From an expanded schedule to a new location and an all-star lineup of speakers; see what awaits October 1-4, 2018.

    ACH Contingency Service: Does your credit union need a contingency ACH provider? See how Catalyst Corporate can serve as an on-demand backup ACH processor when – in situations such as the catastrophic storms last month – a credit union is unable to retrieve ACH receipt files through its Fedline.

    October Training Opportunities: TranZact Basics for the User (Oct. 11), Balance Sheet & Liquidity Management (Oct. 17), Deposit Chek® Reports on TranZact (Oct 18) and ACH Rules - Audit Requirements (Oct. 25).



Catalyst Connect – October 3, 2017     
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Catalyst Connect – September 26, 2017     
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    Loan Participations Reach $2 Billion: Catalyst Corporate’s Loan Participation Program allows credit unions to diversify their loan portfolios, but also serves as a conduit between credit unions that need liquidity and credit unions that have excess liquidity. See what draws credit unions to this unique program.

    Survey Says...Mobile Payments are No. 1: Catalyst Corporate's technology survey was designed to better understand which technological advancements credit unions deem most important. It's no surprise that mobile payments topped the list. See the other technologies credit unions are exploring and implementing.

    Pricing Notification Available This Week: Catalyst Corporate's 2018 Service Pricing Guide will email to chief executive officers at member and client credit unions this week. The Pricing Guide includes convenient links to product and service summaries on Catalyst Corporate's website.

    Walk-Ins Welcome: Don't miss Catalyst Corporate's 40th annual Economic Forum at the Omni Mandalay Hotel in Las Colinas, Texas, Oct. 2-4. If you didn't get a chance to register ahead of time, walk-ins are welcome!

    Upcoming Training Opportunities: Cash Services (Sept. 27), TranZact Basics for the User (Oct. 11), Balance Sheet & Liquidity Management (Oct. 17), Deposit Chek® Reports on TranZact (Oct 18) and ACH Rules - Audit Requirements (Oct. 25).



Catalyst Connect – September 19, 2017     
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    Taxes, Taxes, Taxes: The only two certainties in life are death and taxes, which may explain why many Americans are waiting for a peek at the upcoming tax reform plan. Register for Catalyst Corporate's Economic Forum and hear Jesse Edgerton, an economist at J.P. Morgan, share his insights on this topic as he presents, “An Economic Outlook and Real News on Tax Reform."

    Loans for Sale: Catalyst Corporate's Loan Participation Program connects credit union buyers and sellers interested in participating loans. Utilizing a secure platform, it streamlines the process for buying and selling. Participations offered through this program include pools of member auto loans, mortgages and other consumer loans. See available loans here.

    Six Years Strong! In 2011, Catalyst Corporate was founded with the goal of building a successful partnership with credit unions across the country. As we celebrate our sixth anniversary this month, see what unique elements President/CEO Kathy Garner views as "catalysts" for our actions.

    Upcoming Training and Education: CUBG National Business Services Conference (Reston, VA, Sept. 25), Cash Services (Sept. 27), TranZact Basics for the User (Oct. 11), Balance Sheet & Liquidity Management (Oct. 17), Deposit Chek® Reports on TranZact (Oct 18) and ACH Rules - Audit Requirements (Oct. 25).



Catalyst Connect – September 12, 2017     
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    Hurry! Act Now! The early bird discount and special room rates for Catalyst Corporate's 2017 Economic Forum end today, September 12. Have you registered yet? If you need help convincing your boss, Catalyst Corporate has a memo already drafted for your use!

    Security Update: Catalyst Corporate is committed to protecting member data and ensuring the safety of its communications network. As of February 1, 2018, Catalyst Corporate will discontinue support for older Transport Layer Security (TLS) versions – TLS 1.0 and TLS 1.1. This action supports enhanced security, and prevention of potential vulnerabilities.

    Know Your Volatility Indexes: Volatility is commonplace in the stock markets. However, credit unions occupy a different landscape, fixed income securities, investment grade bonds, typically with durations of five years or less. One Catalyst Corporate senior investment officer explains how volatility indexes are used to navigate fixed income risk.

    September Training and Education: Evaluating Mortgage-Backed Securities & Collateralized Mortgage Obligations (Sept. 14), CUBG National Business Services Conference (Reston, VA, Sept. 25) and Cash Services (Sept. 27).



Catalyst Connect – September 5, 2017     
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    Happy Anniversary, Catalyst! Six years ago this week, Catalyst Corporate was founded with a goal of forging a successful partnership with credit unions across the country. On this anniversary, Catalyst Corporate also reaffirms its commitment to stand beside its partner credit unions struggling to recover from the recent storms along the Gulf Coast.

    Spend an Evening in Italy: Attendees of Catalyst Corporate’s 40th annual Economic Forum are invited to spend an exquisite Evening in Italy, Tuesday, October 3. Participants will enjoy wine tasting, a full range of Italian cuisine, transportation by gondola and more! Register this week to qualify for the Early Bird discount.

    Same-Day ACH Phase 2: On Friday, September 15, 2017, Same-Day ACH processing will include both credits and debits, with funds available at the end of the RDFI’s processing day. Make sure your credit union is ready for this change.

    Early Warning Insights: Imagine losing $26 billion in one year. That’s the total financial loss attributed to identity theft in 2014. One Catalyst Corporate employee explains how credit unions can mitigate these types of losses with real-time fraud protection services.

    September Training Opportunities: TranZact for the Accounting Department (Sept. 6), Evaluating Mortgage-Backed Securities & Collateralized Mortgage Obligations (Sept. 14), CUBG National Business Services Conference (Reston, VA, Sept. 25) and Cash Services (Sept. 27).



Catalyst Connect – August 29, 2017     
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Catalyst Connect – August 22, 2017     
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    Mining the Millennial Mindset: Is your credit union engaging with the largest generation in modern history? One Catalyst Corporate employee shares her insights from Cornerstone Credit Union League's recent Young Professionals Conference in an effort to help credit union leaders across multiple generations better understand the millennial mindset.

    An Economic Forum BONUS! Catalyst Corporate Economic Forum attendees are invited to maximize learning opportunities at two early-morning bonus sessions. Led by experts from Catalyst Strategic Solutions and CU Investment Solutions, these sessions will tackle topics of interest in a changing rate environment.

    Keep Your Tokens Current: Is your ACH Online token expiring soon? To find out, view either the issue date (month and year) or expiration date (month, day and year) on the back of the token. Tokens are good for up to five years. If you need a replacement or have any questions, please email ach@catalystcorp.org.

    You’ve Got Mail: See what's new at Catalyst Corporate. The third quarter 2017 SCAN publication should arrive in your mailbox this week. If you can't wait, it's also available online.

    Upcoming Training and Education: Security Safekeeping Transition Training (Aug. 30), CECL Overview and Analytics (Aug. 31), TranZact for the Accounting Department (Sept. 6) and Evaluating Mortgage-Backed Securities & Collateralized Mortgage Obligations (Sept. 14).



Catalyst Connect – August 15, 2017     
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Catalyst Connect – August 8, 2017     
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Catalyst Connect – August 1, 2017     
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Catalyst Connect – July 25, 2017     
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Catalyst Connect – July 18, 2017     
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Catalyst Connect – July 11, 2017     
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Catalyst Connect – June 27, 2017     
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Catalyst Connect – June 20, 2017     
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Catalyst Connect – June 13, 2017     
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Catalyst Connect – June 6, 2017     
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Catalyst Connect – May 30, 2017     
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    Strengthen Your Portfolio Management: At the CUNA CFO Council Conference last week, Catalyst Strategic Solutions’ VP of advisory service gave CFOs direction and perspective on portfolio management. Topics covered included balance sheet strategies, market and investment trends and key components of investment portfolio management.

    Member Feedback Requested: Member Loyalty Group emailed Catalyst Corporate’s Member Survey to credit unions May 16. If you have not responded to this brief survey, please check May 16 emails in your inbox OR watch for a follow-up email from MLG this Thursday, June 1. Your input is appreciated!

    Mind Your Business… Services: Is your credit union positioned to provide funding, fee-generating deposit accounts and payment services to the growing small business community? Catalyst Corporate VP of sales, Karen Coble, gives insights on ways your credit union can support, engage and advise the SEGs and small businesses in your community.

    This Quarter's Numbers: Review Catalyst Corporate's performance through the first quarter of 2017. The Q1 Progress Summary offers information about membership growth, key performance ratios and more.

    June Education Opportunities: ACH Origination (June 14), Deposit Capture Research and Accounting (June 21), ALM Series Part 1: An Orientation (June 22), Manage Rising Rates with Derivatives (June 27) and CUBG’s Commercial Real Estate Lending for Credit Unions (Plano, TX June 28-29).



Catalyst Connect – May 23, 2017     
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Catalyst Connect – May 16, 2017     
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    1.5 Billion and Counting: Catalyst Corporate recently surpassed $1.5 billion in loan participations since the program's inception. See how selling loans through this program has helped one credit union manage balance sheet liquidity, risk and key regulatory ratios, while keeping assets in the credit union industry.

    Where in the World…? Located just east of Romania and south of Ukraine is Moldova. Despite a recent decrease in Moldova’s poverty levels, it remains one of the poorest countries in Europe. Catalyst Corporate Chief Operating Officer Brad Ganey visited credit unions in Moldova to explore ways to improve and stabilize their payments infrastructure.

    Unlock the Secrets of Business Lending: Credit unions have long gravitated toward investment real estate as a way to do business lending. The source of repayment on these loans is easy to understand and is generated primarily from rental income. However, lending to operational businesses can add diversity to a credit union's loan portfolio.

    You’ve Got Mail! Earlier today, credit unions received Catalyst Corporate’s Member Survey by email from Member Loyalty Group. Please take a moment to respond to this very brief survey on your business relationship with Catalyst Corporate and Catalyst Strategic Solutions. Your input is appreciated!

    Upcoming Training Opportunities: Funds Transfer Services (May 17), Deposit Chek® Reports on TranZact (May 24) and ACH Origination (June 14).



Catalyst Connect – May 9, 2017     
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    Loan Participations – A Buyer’s Perspective: Many credit unions today are faced with excess deposits. See how loan participations are helping credit unions, such as Service 1st Credit Union, meet this challenge.

    Climbing the Investment Ladder: An “investment ladder” is more than just a catchy phrase, says Leah Schlangen, a Catalyst Corporate investment officer. It's an important strategy in managing a credit union's investment portfolio.

    Checking Accounts Live On! As long as checking accounts continue to play a viable role in members' lives, credit unions will need to continue processing those checks. Why not consolidate your credit union's check processing, settlement and liquidity with Catalyst Corporate?

    Heads Up: In coming days, Catalyst Corporate will conduct its annual Member Survey. Credit unions will receive a seven-question email survey from Member Loyalty Group, requesting feedback on your business relationship with Catalyst Corporate and Catalyst Strategic Solutions. Your input is valued immensely. Please take a moment to respond to this very short questionnaire.

    May Education and Training: Funds Transfer Services (May 17) and Deposit Chek® Reports on TranZact (May 24).



Catalyst Connect – May 2, 2017     
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    How Will Members React to a Rising Rate Environment?  A lot has changed since the last rising rate cycle. How will these changes affect your members' financial behavior? Catalyst Corporate advisor, Jonathan Jackson, shares his insights in a new blog post.

    Small Business Week: April 30 - May 6 is National Small Business Week. Did you know Catalyst Corporate assists credit unions in meeting small business member needs? See how these offerings can enhance your small business services portfolio.

    Design to Mobile: A consistent user experience across all service delivery channels reduces "friction" for your members. Brad Ganey, chief operating officer of Catalyst Corporate, explains the importance of a mobile-only experience regardless, of what online device is used – smartphone, tablet, wearable or desktop.

    All Things ACH: Phase 2 of Same-Day ACH takes effect September 15, 2017. Is your credit union ready? Check out the latest issue of Catalyst Corporate's ACH Advisor for more on Catalyst Corporate’s Same-Day debit tutorial, as well as a special feature on the roles of ODFIs and Originators.

    May Training Opportunities: Funds Transfer Services (May 17) and Deposit Chek® Reports on TranZact (May 24).



Catalyst Connect – April 25, 2017     
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Catalyst Connect – April 18, 2017     
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    Making the Most of Mobile: If you believe mobile services and millennials are important to the future of our industry, we’ve got to do a better job of learning their language, StrategyCorps' Dave DeFazio told a credit union audience last week. How can we do better? He shared a few ideas…

    Siems Joins Forum Lineup: Federal Reserve economist and storyteller Thomas Siems joins the list of presenters at Catalyst Corporate’s 40th annual Economic Forum, set for Oct 2-4 at the Omni Mandalay Hotel in Las Colinas.

    Manage Interest Rate Risk with Derivatives: Hedging risk with derivatives is uncharted territory for many credit unions. Find out how they work, how to make them part of your ALM framework and what NCUA guidance says about them at an upcoming webinar.

    Training Opportunities: Corporate Checking & Positive Pay (April 19), Lessons from the World’s Mobile Experience Leaders (April 28) and CUBG’s Commercial Real Estate Lending for Credit Unions  (Portland, OR, May 2-3).



Catalyst Connect – April 11, 2017     
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Catalyst Connect – April 4, 2017     
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    Cut Fraud with CardNav: Card fraud remains a big concern for many credit union members. Catalyst Corporate's Card Services program protects members from fraudulent activity with CardNav – a service giving debit and ATM cardholders the ability to turn on and off their cards, set controls and receive alerts.

    Insights from Catalyst: Stress. It’s just one syllable, but it could have a disastrous effect on one’s mind, body and soul. A stressed balance sheet could be just as detrimental to a credit union and its members. See the important role liquidity stress testing plays. Check out Catalyst Corporate's new blog – Insights from Catalyst.

    ALM Services Take Center Stage: Sit back and enjoy the show! Watch Catalyst Strategic Solutions' four new videos (look for the film icon under "Resources" at the bottom of the page) to learn what your peers are saying about ALM services.

    Upcoming Education and Training: Student Loan Program Overview (April 6), TranZact Basics for the User (April 12), Corporate Checking & Positive Pay (April 19) and CUBG’s Commercial Real Estate Lending for Credit Unions  (Portland, OR, May 2-3).



Catalyst Connect – March 28, 2017     
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Catalyst Connect – March 21, 2017     
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Catalyst Connect – March 14, 2017     
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Catalyst Connect – February 28, 2017     
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Catalyst Connect – February 21, 2017     
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Catalyst Connect – January 31, 2017     
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    Benefit from a Brokerage Account: Credit unions have unique needs, and having a brokerage partner who understands these needs is refreshing. Catalyst Corporate, in partnership with credit union-owned CU Investment Solutions (ISI), delivers customized portfolio strategies through its experienced team of registered representatives.

    Extra! Extra! Read All About It! Catalyst Corporate’s experts have a lot to say, and they’re using the CU Resources blog to spread those messages. Read their guest-blog posts, published the last Thursday of each month since August 2016.

    Calling All Executives: Catalyst Corporate's brief Quarterly CU Confidence Survey closes TONIGHT (January 31) at midnight. Through your answers, the survey measures the attitudes of credit union CEOs nationwide regarding the economic environment.

    Upcoming Training Opportunities: TranZact Administration (February 8), Share Drafts (February 15) and ACH Rules – The Basics (February 22).


Contact Catalyst Corporate if you are looking for an older issue of [Connect/SCAN/Behind the Numbers].


SCAN Archives


SCAN Third Quarter 2017
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SCAN Second Quarter 2017
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SCAN First Quarter 2017
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Contact Catalyst Corporate if you are looking for an older issue of [Connect/SCAN/Behind the Numbers].


Behind the Numbers Archives


Behind the Numbers – November 10, 2017
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Bits and Pieces – Very little market-moving economic data was released this week. Instead, the financial markets were driven by other issues – arrests in Saudi Arabia, Treasury auctions and progress (or lack thereof) on the tax reform program. By the end of the week, stocks plummeted as...


Behind the Numbers – November 3, 2017
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More of the Same, with a Twist – This week's scheduled FOMC meeting was basically a non-event as far as the financial markets were concerned. The target range for the federal funds rate was left unchanged at 1.00 to 1.25 percent. The committee gave a better grade on economic activity this time around...


Behind the Numbers – October 27, 2017
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The Economy is Humming Along – It has been two years since the U.S. economy had back-to-back quarters of three percent or more growth. Until now. The economy grew 3.0 percent during the third quarter, after expanding 3.1 percent in the second quarter. Analysts had been bracing for a slowdown...


Behind the Numbers – October 20, 2017
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Housing - A Tale of Two Cities – Activity in the housing market during September paints a good picture of the inconsistencies stemming from hurricane recovery efforts. Sales of existing homes rose 0.7 percent, the first increase in three months, as the housing market in Houston began to recover. Houston...


Behind the Numbers – October 13, 2017
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Inflation Spike - Real or Temporary? – The puzzle of rising, or not rising, prices was evident in the September inflation data. Both producer and consumer prices increased at a faster pace than in August, with most of the gain coming from higher energy and gasoline prices as the hurricanes shut down refining...


Behind the Numbers – October 6, 2017
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Ignore the Bad, Applaud the Good – Everyone knew to expect an unusually weak job report for September, due to the hurricanes. We were not disappointed. U.S. employers experienced a net decline of 33,000 jobs in September, much worse than the anticipated increase of just 80,000 jobs and the first negative...


Behind the Numbers – September 29, 2017
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Housing's Eroding Foundation – The foundation of the housing market is crumbling, or at the very least, stalled and stagnant. Rising prices and dwindling inventory continue to erode progress made the past two years. National home prices rose 5.9 percent in July from a year ago. This is the highest annual...


Behind the Numbers – September 22, 2017
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Let the Unwinding Begin! – The Federal Reserve gave the markets what they wanted, and more, this week. As expected, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) announced the long-promised balance sheet normalization program will begin in October. The Fed will allow $10 billion in Treasury and...


Behind the Numbers – September 15, 2017
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Inflation - Here to Stay? – Inflation has become the single most important measure of the economy this year, especially the closer we get to a Federal Reserve meeting. As critical as it is to get this indicator right, it is becoming more difficult. And Mother Nature will create additional challenges in the...


Behind the Numbers – September 8, 2017
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Politics, Weather and Nuclear Threats – There is nothing like a few threats to get the market going. If you were one of the many people who thought bond yields could only move higher this year, well…you may need rethink that. Bond yields and stock prices trended lower this week, mostly in a flight to safety move...


Behind the Numbers – September 1, 2017
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Job Weakness - Real or Fake News? – A pattern has developed for the Labor Department’s August job report – revise it higher after the initial report. It is creating a lot of debate this time around. Was today’s report another one to ignore? Is it closer to reality this time? Or even worse, is it the last clean report we will...


Behind the Numbers – August 18, 2017
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Crank Up the Music – The minutes from the July Federal Reserve Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting presented a committee still confused and debating over their next move. The committee is struggling to balance concerns over low inflation and a labor market that is close to full employment...


Behind the Numbers – August 11, 2017
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Forget Waldo...Where's Inflation? – The Federal Reserve has told us many times that the low level of inflation is transitory, and inflation will eventually manifest. But so far, there has been no sign of sustained price pressure. Both the PPI and CPI gauges of inflation came in below expectations and at or below...


Behind the Numbers – August 4, 2017
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All it Takes is an Apple a Day – The Dow Jones Industrial Average broke 22,000 on Thursday, marking the 32nd record close this year. This was the event of the week, even if credit unions are focusing more on bonds than stocks. Apple was the catalyst that pushed the index to its next milestone,...


Behind the Numbers – July 28, 2017
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Expected Time of Arrival is "Relatively Soon" – The Fed spoke, the market reacted…and now what? More waiting. As expected, after two days of discussion, the FOMC left interest rates unchanged and did not announce an exact beginning to the balance sheet reduction program. The committee did tweak the timing for...


Behind the Numbers – July 21, 2017
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Builders Busy, but Bleaker Outlooks – Construction on new homes increased for the first time in four months during June. Housing starts rose 8.3 percent to a 1.22 million annualized pace, the fastest pace since February. The pick-up in activity was a combination of increased activity in single- and multi-family...


Behind the Numbers – July 14, 2017
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Do We Sense Some Back Pedaling? – Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen spent two days this week defending and explaining the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy to members of Congress. The Q&A session elicited a short-lived rally in the financial markets. Yellen suggested the fed funds rate does not have far to...


Behind the Numbers – July 7, 2017
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Discussion + Disagreement = Confusion – Minutes from the June FOMC meeting indicate a Federal Reserve that seems confused about a number of things. At the top of the list is inflation, followed by when to begin reducing the balance sheet and how to do so without disrupting the financial markets. Discussions at...


Behind the Numbers – June 30, 2017
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1-2-3...About Face – The last week of the month made up for the dullness of the previous three weeks. The financial markets did an about face after global central banks began addressing tighter, rather than easier, monetary policy.


Behind the Numbers – June 16, 2017
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The Fed Strikes Again – The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) voted to raise the federal funds rate to a target range between 1.00 and 1.25 percent. This is the third 25 basis point increase the FOMC has conducted in the past six months. The decision to increase the benchmark rate came on...


Behind the Numbers – June 2, 2017
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Is 138,000 Enough to Make the Fed Move? – Analysts and economists had hoped for, and expected, a stronger report. The Labor Department reported the U.S. added 138,000 jobs in May, far below the estimated 182,000. Over the past three months, an average 121,000 jobs were added monthly. That average has...


Behind the Numbers – May 26, 2017
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New Clues from the FOMCFinally, for a change, the Federal Reserve gave the financial markets some positive information to chew on. The minutes from the early May FOMC meeting revealed policy makers were in fact developing a plan to reduce the balance sheet. 


Behind the Numbers – May 19, 2017
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Optimism Winning Over Activity – The housing market is improving, although not as fast and steady as economists wish. Economists were hoping to see a rebound in new home construction in April after unusually harsh weather dampened activity in March. Unfortunately, housing starts in April were a...


Behind the Numbers – May 12, 2017
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Retail May Not Be Dead...Yet – Retail sales rebounded in April, bringing a sigh of relief to economists who feared consumers had lost their appetite for spending money. Not only did April sales increase 0.4 percent, but March sales were revised higher. The look back means spending was not as weak in the first...


Behind the Numbers – May 5, 2017
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Two Days and Nothing New – The two-day FOMC meeting revealed nothing new. The committee voted unanimously to keep the target interest rate at 0.75 to 1.00 percent. The press release noted that while economic activity slowed and household spending improved only modestly, fundamentals...


Behind the Numbers – April 28, 2017
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Spending stunts growth – Despite feeling confident about the economy and financial conditions, consumers did not put their money where their expectations were in the first quarter. Consumer spending hit a roadblock during the first quarter of 2017, bringing economic growth...


Behind the Numbers – April 21, 2017
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Housing remains on firm foundation – The unusual weather patterns in February and March created fluctuations in the housing market that appear concerning at first glance. However, when you compare the two months' data together, the activity becomes normal. Construction of new homes declined...


Behind the Numbers – April 14, 2017
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Has Inflation Reached its Peak Already? – Two key measures of inflation are already beginning to show signs of softening after February’s PCE (personal consumption expenditures) index topped the Federal Reserve’s target of two percent. Both the consumer and producer price indices declined in March. Producer prices...


Behind the Numbers – April 7, 2017
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Weather and Retail Wreak Havoc in March – March ended the stunning job growth of recent months. Employers added 98,000 jobs in March versus the expected 180,000 jobs. The two-month revision subtracted 38,000 jobs. Harsh weather and a decline in retail created most of the losses. Retail lost 30,000 jobs for the...


Behind the Numbers – March 31, 2017
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Game of Financial Tug-of-War – This week felt like a game of tug-of-war. After watching the financial markets move in one direction last week, this week they pulled back and forth. The markets kept trying to regain ground each day, with stock prices and bond yields doing their best to move higher. Strong...


Behind the Numbers – March 24, 2017
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But, I Thought Rates Were to Move Higher – Despite the key interest rate increase the Federal Reserve voted on just a week ago, the financial markets turned the other cheek this week. The three major stock indices posted the worst one-day losses this year. The Dow fell over 200 points for the first time since...


Behind the Numbers – March 17, 2017
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Fed Brought Smile to Financial Markets – The long anticipated rate move by the Federal Reserve finally happened, sending a sigh of relief through the financial markets. The Federal Open Market Committee voted nine to one to raise the benchmark lending rate by 25 basis points. The new range is 0.75 to 1.00 percent....


Behind the Numbers – March 10, 2017
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JOBS - Is It Enough to Move the Fed? – The official job report for February was solid. The unemployment rate declined to 4.7 percent, 235,000 jobs were added during the month, and wages increased 2.8 percent over a year ago. All signs point to the continuation of a steadily improving labor market and overall...


Behind the Numbers – March 3, 2017
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The Fed and Interest Rates? – Headline Consumer Price Index (CPI) has increased more than most analysts projected, driven largely by gains in the always volatile energy sector. Core inflation, which backs out volatile commodities, such as food and energy, is approaching the Fed’s target inflation...


Behind the Numbers – February 24, 2017
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Hints Continue to Fall Without Landing – This week contributed more pieces to the rate puzzle, but the complete picture remains a mystery. Minutes from the February 1 FOMC meeting were released mid-week, providing insight into two days of discussion between the 12 voting members of the Federal Reserve...


Behind the Numbers – February 17, 2017
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To March or Not to March... – This week was all about the timing of the next Federal Reserve interest rate move. Comments from various Federal Reserve members and a string of solid economic reports spurred bets that a move could happen in March. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen gave an upbeat...

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