published on June 17, 2016 - 6:06 AM
Written by The Business Journal Staff

Sacramento-based Golden 1 Credit Union announced it has reached a key milestone — $10 billion in assets.
That puts Golden 1 in the company of five other credit unions nationwide, according to a news release.
As of March 2015, Golden 1 Credit Union reported $478.2 million in assets in the Central Valley, according to The Business Journal’s Credit Unions list. It has nearly 800,000 members in 38 of California’s 58 counties. There are six branches in the Fresno-Clovis area, one in Oakhurst and another in Hanford, according to the its website.

“We take great pride in knowing members trust Golden 1 as their financial partner,” said Donna Bland, president and CEO, Golden 1. “Our growth is a testament to the credit union difference and we will continue to communicate the many benefits of joining a not-for-profit financial institution. Golden 1 Credit Union is a valuable, long-term partner that is helping consumers live better lives and achieve their financial goals.”
Since 2014, the credit union has provided members with more than $3 billion in auto financing and more than $1.6 billion in home loans and home equity lines. In the past three years, home loans have grown by 51 percent, auto loans have grown by 130 percent, and Golden 1 has seen a 22 percent leap in membership.

Valley Business Bank earns ranking
For the third year in a row, Valley Business Bank in Visalia has been recognized as a “Super Premier” performing bank by The Findley Reports on Financial Institutions.
The ranking is the highest possible by the Findley Reports, which provides performance benchmarking for the banking industry. It is based on the bank’s 2015 operating performance.
Allan Stone, president and CEO of Valley Business Bank said, “We are pleased to once again receive the “Super Premier” ranking from the Findley Reports. This is a true testament to our team and the bank’s strong financial performance. We strive to be the very best financial institution and provide the very finest banking services to our customers.”
Valley Commerce Bancorp, the parent company of Valley Business Bank, recently reported its best-ever first quarter performance, with income of $1.1 million, or 38 cents per diluted common share. Those earnings were up 38 percent from the same quarter of 2015.

Fed is likely to keep rates steady as investors seek hints
(AP) — With the Federal Reserve considered sure to leave interest rates alone when it ends a meeting Wednesday, Fed watchers will be seeking clues to the timing of future moves.
The central bank will release a policy statement and update its forecasts for the economy and interest rates. Afterward, Chair Janet Yellen will hold a news conference.
For weeks, the Fed had been expected to consider raising rates at its June meeting. That view was encouraged by the minutes of its most recent meeting in April. The minutes suggested that a rate hike was likely if hiring and economic growth strengthened and inflation showed signs of accelerating toward the Fed’s 2 percent target rate.
But this month, the government caught the financial world off guard when it said employers added just 38,000 jobs in May— the weakest gain in five years — and that job growth averaged only 116,000 the past three months, down from 230,000 for the 12 months ending in April.
Suddenly, expectations for a rate hike this month declined. And some expressed confusion about the Fed’s approach to rates.
“There is uncertainty about what the Fed might do, and that is confusing markets and adding to market instability,” said David Jones, chief economist at DMJ Advisors.
Fed officials contend that they have long stressed that their rate policies are not on a pre-set course but rather are “data dependent.” In a speech last week, Yellen said that while the U.S. economy looks fundamentally solid, there were too many uncertainties to give a specific timetable for upcoming rate hikes.
Among the uncertainties she highlighted is the referendum next week in Britain over whether to leave the European Union. A yes vote could roil markets, and the Fed wouldn’t likely want to further unnerve investors with a rate hike just a week before that vote.
Some economists say the Fed could be ready to raise rates in July, assuming that the dismal May employment report is followed by a much stronger June number and investors don’t panic after the vote in Britain. Other analysts think the economic outlook will still be too cloudy for a July rate hike and are pointing to September as the most likely time for a Fed move.
In addition to the May jobs report, other economic barometers have also sowed doubts — from tepid consumer spending and business investment to a slowdown in worker productivity to stresses from China and other major economies.
And inflation remains below the Fed’s target.
Sung Won Sohn, an economics professor at California State University, Channel Islands, foresees just one Fed rate hike this year, probably in September, with the central bank then moving to the sidelines in the closing weeks of the presidential race.
On the other hand, Diane Swonk, chief economist at DS Economics in Chicago, predicts two rate hikes, in July and December.
The Fed raised its key policy rate modestly in December from a record low near zero, where it had been since the depths of the Great Recession in 2008. And it projected that it would raise rates four more times in 2016.
But as the year began, oil prices plunged, and concerns escalated about China, the world’s second-largest economy. Nervous investors sent markets sinking, and fears arose of a new recession. The Fed put any further rate hikes on hold.
Yellen and other Fed officials have said they expect to raise rates gradually after the job market shows further signs of improvement, including higher pay increases and inflation moving closer to the Fed’s target.
Fed officials keep stressing that only when the latest data shows the economy edging consistently toward full health will they resume raising rates.
Conversely, the Fed also wants to take care not to lead investors to inflate the prices of stocks and other assets out of a mistaken belief that it will keep rates ultra-low well into the future. The need to discourage such excessive risk-taking is why even analysts who think the economy still faces challenges predict that the Fed will nevertheless raise rates at least once this year.

Home Depot sues over cards
(AP) — Visa and MasterCard are using security measures prone to fraud, putting retailers and customers at risk of hacking attacks by cyber thieves, The Home Depot Inc. says in a new federal lawsuit.
It’s the latest giant retailer to raise serious concerns about security with its lawsuit filed this week in U.S. District Court in Atlanta. Last month, Arkansas-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc. sued Visa Inc. over similar issues.
Atlanta-based Home Depot says new payment cards with so-called “chip” technology, rolled out in the U.S. in recent years, remain less secure than cards used in Europe and elsewhere in the world.
Even with chips, U.S. cards still rely on customers’ hand-written signatures for verification, rather than more secure Personal Identification Numbers, or PINs, Home Depot maintains.
“Regardless of how the cardholder’s identity is confirmed, the chip makes data much more secure, rendering it almost useless to create fraudulent cards or transactions,” MasterCard spokesman Seth Eisen said in a statement Wednesday.
MasterCard received the court filing Tuesday and is still reviewing the claims, Eisen said.
“We are aware of the complaint and will respond in due course,” a Visa spokeswoman said in a statement Wednesday.

House seeks to block IRS from making nonprofits list donors
(AP) — The House has voted to bar the Internal Revenue Service from requiring nonprofit groups to list their donors on tax returns, saying the agency has failed to keep the information confidential.
The bill was approved Tuesday, 240-182. Republicans say the IRS has shown it can’t be trusted with the information, especially when it comes to conservative groups.
In 2014, a federal court ordered the IRS to pay $50,000 to the conservative National Organization for Marriage after confidential information about the group’s donors was published on the website of a political opponent.
The White House threatened a veto, saying the bill would impede the ability of the IRS to enforce tax laws and reduce transparency for private groups and foundations that are active in politics.

Report: IT worker detained in Geneva over Panama Papers leak
(AP) — A computer specialist for the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca has been taken into custody by Geneva authorities in a probe linked to the leak of a massive trove of data on offshore companies, a Swiss newspaper reported Wednesday.
Daily Le Temps, citing an unidentified person close to the case, reports that Geneva prosecutors earlier this week placed the computer specialist for the firm’s local office in temporary detention in connection with the recent release of “a very large volume of confidential data.”
The revelations could foment new speculation about the mysterious source of the so-called “Panama Papers” leak, in which a person gave a German newspaper a huge trove of data detailing the owners and clients of thousands of offshore entities.
The report did not specify when the data was released, but said Geneva prosecutors led a police raid of Mossack Fonseca’s local office in which computer equipment was seized.
The Geneva prosecutor’s office confirmed to The Associated Press that a criminal investigation led by state prosecutor Claudio Mascotto has been opened following a complaint by Mossack Fonseca, but declined further comment. The law firm’s local office did not respond to calls or an e-mail seeking comment.
Data on more than 200,000 offshore entities was leaked to German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung, which shared it this year with a global network of investigative journalists. They published reports on the most interesting cases, and made public a list of thousands of names.
The articles detailed how world leaders, celebrities and businesses use shell companies incorporated in low-tax countries like the Bahamas, the British Virgin Islands or Panama that accept to keep the identity of the owners secret.
Owning an offshore company is not necessarily illegal, but is often used to evade or avoid taxes, launder money and make bribes. They can also be used to ensure privacy or protect wealth from an authoritarian regime.
The broad repercussions of the leaks led to the resignation of Iceland’s prime minister and brought scrutiny to many others, like the leaders of Argentina and Ukraine, Chinese politicians, and Russian President Vladimir Putin and his friends.

Greek economy seen returning to growth
(AP) — The Bank of Greece has backed international forecasts that Greece’s economy will return to growth next year and is urging bailout lenders to act swiftly to ease the country’s debt load.
In a report published Wednesday, the central bank said Greece is expected to emerge from a mild recession to grow 2.5 percent next year — close to forecasts of 2.7 percent growth made by the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund.
The report was published a day before the eurozone rescue fund is expected to approve new bailout loan installments worth 10.3 billion euros ($11.5 billion) for Greece.
The central bank also recommended a range of measures to ease Greece’s massive debt load. It says the creditors could exploit the “historically low global interest rates” to help Greece.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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