Hampel sees net interest margin rising for credit unions because net interest margin bottomed in the latter half of 2013. Hampel expects the margin to rise because consumer loans will grow faster than deposits this year. CUNA expects deposit growth to hit 5%, the same growth pace as in 2013.
"I am not saying it will be peachy keen for small credit unions in 2014, but they rely much more on net interest margin than big credit unions," noted Hampel. "And consumer lending is what small credit unions do best."
But Moebs is not so sure consumer loans will outpace deposits with Yellen's focus on creating jobs.
"The credit union movement cannot afford to increase deposits at a growth rate that is anything less than half of what they can grow net worth," said Moebs. "Credit unions have to be extremely careful about every dollar of deposits they take in, and that applies to the very small all the way up to NAVY FCU."
Moebs warned that CUs, too, won't be able to lean on bulging loan loss reserves to prop up profits, as has been the case with many in the last few years.
This will be the year, insisted Moebs—with the threat to overdraft income and falling interchange—when credit unions charge more fees to drive the bottom line, tying fees to relationship pricing.
All possibilities considered, and economists' advice aside, Hampel summed up where CUs and the economy are headed in 2014: "After a year that clearly signaled things are improving, we will build on 2013's results."