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LINDSEY VONN
CNBC.com web-only interview
Downhill skier Lindsay Vonn

Good News in California! Really?

California Flag
Photo by: scazon
California Flag

The state is broke.

The hills are on fire.

There's no water.

Michael Jackson is about to be buried, and there's the horror of Jaycee Lee Dugard's captivity.

California's doesn't have much to be proud of lately.

The state went into recession first with a collapsing housing market and rising unemployment.

Any positive news, any, is embraced as a sign of hope that the worst is over.

Well, the following news is quite positive.

The California Credit Union League has revealed to CNBC that in the second quarter of this year, member credit unions in the Golden State originated more than 12,500 primary mortgages, the highest number in five years and up 20 percent from the first quarter. Total loans topped $7.3 billion, nearly 10 percent of the national total. California credit unions also modified a whopping $1 billion in mortgages, one third the number of all credit union modifications in the country.

"Deposits are up, lending is up, and actually net worth at credit unions improved in the second quarter," says league President and CEO Bill Cheney. "With all that's going on in this economy, I think that's quite an achievement."

Deposits in California credit unions rose 4.26 percent in the second quarter, their net worth increased 3.26 percent, and their capital ratio now tops 9 percent. Even small business loans rose slightly.

What is not clear is how much of this new business is the result of tighter lending at traditional banks, and how much of it signals an overall improvement. On a national level, the increase in lending and deposits at credit unions is greater than the increase in California. However, California's own improvement is so significant, it may signal the beginnings of a recovery.

"It seems to me that while we've fallen further than the rest of the nation-we entered this recession early, and I think we're going to put out of it early," Cheney says. "I think the recovery will be more robust in California."

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  • Based in Los Angeles, Jane Wells is a CNBC business news reporter and also writes the Funny Business blog for CNBC.com.

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