Crazy Claims, Sane Advice, & A Strange Landing

By Frank J. Diekmann

Stuff found while rummaging through the reporter’s notebook and trying to find the Christmas lights…

Diekmann Frank

* Like trying to somehow separate yourself from all the other M&Ms in the bag, it’s not an easy task to stand out from the crowd of crazies, kooks and cacophony in Washington (all prerequisites to getting our own talk show), so before 2014 closes we really have to pause for a moment to salute the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) for finding a way to rise above it all.

To refresh your memory, because you likely had trouble getting your arms around this one, the trade group for retailers did some math, put 2 and 2 together, and got 7 and 3/8ths. In a statement on its website, under the headline “CUNA Fears Improved Economy,” RILA concluded that all the positive numbers credit unions are reporting can clearly only mean two things: 1) that an improved economy and all those loans, fewer-charge-offs, etc., actually is bad news, because CUs aren’t making as much money from bounced checks/courtesy pay, and 2) better bottom lines mean all those CU complaints that breaches are costly are baseless.

As CUNA said in its response, “Seriously?”

The only breach taking place here is any semblance of logic, though that seems redundant given its Washington roots. Unless, of course, I missed something during the recent recession when all the credit unions were apparently doing a land office business thanks to their member-owners losing their jobs, homes, equity, etc. RILA? Must mean Ridiculous Interpretation Leaves Astonishment.

Steering Wheel IPad holder

This holiday, give the gift that could...kill someone.

* Saw this at right while poking around the Internet this holiday season: a table you can mount right there to your steering wheel so you can more readily use your iPad or tablet. Hey, why you’re at it, why not a screen that pulls down from the visor and hangs in front of the windshield so you can project images in front of you?

  • Truth in Advertising Award in 2014 goes to Mark King, president of TaylorMade, who began his remarks at the BAI conference by saying, “I’m here to talk about retail banking. Are we excited?” As a crowd of several thousand bankers stared back blankly and silently, King laughed and acknowledged what everyone was thinking but likely seldom admit: “No, we’re not.”
  • During 2014, one person suggested that the “awkwardly worded” Credit Union National Association change its name to the National Credit Union Association. Yes, because there would be nothing awkward or confusing about two NCUAs.

Creepy Vs. Threatening Vs. Promising

I wrote recently about some of the rather “creepy” developments in technology that allow for financial institutions to know more about their customers/members than those same folks may know themselves.

Now the Pew Trusts is out with research about artificial intelligence and robots that it is projecting will have big implications for a range of industries, including financial services.

The Pew Trusts said it “canvassed” 1,896 technology experts and others for predictions on what AI and robotics will mean by the year 2025. Among those predictions:

  • 48% envision a future in which robots and digital agents have displaced significant numbers of both blue- and white-collar workers—with many expressing concern that this will lead to vast increases in income inequality, masses of people who are effectively unemployable, and breakdowns in the social order.
  • BUT 52% expect that technology will not displace more jobs than it creates by 2025. To be sure, this group anticipates that many jobs currently performed by humans will be substantially taken over by robots or digital agents by 2025. But they have faith that human ingenuity will create new jobs, industries, and ways to make a living, just as it has been doing since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution.

Those surveyed also shared certain hopes and concerns about the impact of technology on employment, including that our existing social structures—and especially our educational institutions—are not adequately preparing people for the skills that will be needed in the job market of the future.

Penny pic

There's a third option to heads vs. tails.

 Conversely, others have hope that the coming changes will be an opportunity to reassess our society’s relationship to employment itself—by returning to a focus on small-scale or artisanal modes of production, or by giving people more time to spend on leisure, self-improvement, or time with loved ones.

  • I wouldn’t share this were it not so extraordinary. Was with my daughter in a restaurant recently where they had one of those plastic games into which you can drop spare change, supposedly for charity (I strongly suspect that in many cases the charity is the restaurant employees themselves). So she dropped in a penny—and it landed on its side!, as you can see at right.

The prize? Apparently getting mentioned here.

Happy holidays.

Frank J. Diekmann is Cooperator in Chief at and can be reached at



Section: Standard
Word Count: 1112
Copyright Holder:
Copyright Year: 2019
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