Stumbling through the dark, like a drunk looking for a lamppost, does have its rewards. You get to do and say anything that comes to the muddled mind without remorse or blame, so that when you do finally find the light and begin to sober up, your new-found position can be anything you'd like to make of it and totally disconnected from how you got there.
That seems to be the story of the NCUA, CUNA, Corporate Stabilization and the "too big to fail" drunken party generally. Big boys playing with big toys (like CDOs, MBSs, and derivative reserves) were simply cutting their teeth in preparation for an end game they all really wanted to play in — M&A. The banks had openly talked about this game: who would be the "Last Five Standing." But credit unions, that bastion of financial democracy and cooperation in a world gone mad with greed, only raised eyebrows at the thought of playing such a ruthless game. "Power to the People Helping People!"
And yet, here we lean against the lamppost today looking at a sobering Corporate Stabilization program that seems tailor-made for a long period of M&A — "Mergers and Attritions." For the next seven years, those credit unions "too small to survive" this prolonged period of red ink will be fed to their "too large to fail" brethren by a regulator and industry that would be much more comfortable playing their games with the Big Boys-and to hell with the People.
The problem with this Gin Mill game is that like any light you drunkenly stumble into and then try to take advantage of, it always has unintended consequences — as present economic circumstances so well detail. Does anyone really think there is no end to this line of midnight lamp posts? Or are they just itching to play the End Game of All End Games — Last Man Standing? With their luck, it'll probably be a Woman. Game over.
Michael Dillon, Marketing Director
South Division CU, Evergreen Park, Ill.