Banks are not the only financial institutions suffering from consumer deleveraging.

Dave Colby, chief economist at the Credit Union National Association, said the economy is teetering, as consumers continue to deleverage. He projected 2% to 3% credit union loan growth in 2011. "I am seeing a lumpy L-type of recovery for the economy with things slowly getting back into place, but with a whole flock of black swans sitting out there."

What concerns Colby is that 2011 will be first year in the past two without major economic stimulus programs, which could drive a second wave of unemployment from state and local governments that face big budget issues.

The year will be one of managed growth. "Through deposit pricing credit unions will manage key ratios. We will not have member demand for short-term credit. If members are not borrowing, how aggressive do you have to be in attracting deposits?" said Colby, who projects credit unions will manage deposit growth down to 3.5% to 4%.

Return on assets will climb a bit, he said, with the biggest plus coming from fewer writeoffs and aggressive expense control.

Colby said credit unions will manage marketing to put them where they need to go, less in the area of membership drives and more for refinance campaigns.

Increased cooperation must occur to manage expenses, he said. "I'm hoping for more collaboration, but I'm not holding my breath," Colby said.

"I think the large credit unions are off on their own trying to maximize their value to members and their own efficiencies," Colby said.