IBJNews

Five questions: Indiana treasurer ponders course for yield rise

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Richard Mourdock, a 62-year-old geologist and former coal-mining executive in his second term as Indiana’s Republican treasurer, has plenty to brag about.

The Hoosier State’s economy has been outpacing Illinois and Iowa since the recession ended in 2009, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Its state and local bonds are also beating the $3.7 trillion U.S. municipal-debt market, with last year’s 2.1-percent decline versus a 2.6-percent drop for the Standard & Poor’s Municipal Bond index.

Indiana’s rebound comes amid the auto industry’s recovery as well as passage last year of the biggest tax cut in state history, including a 5-percent reduction of the levy on income. Gov. Mike Pence, a 54-year-old Republican, on Jan. 14 called for phasing out the tax on business owners’ equipment.

Mourdock was first elected treasurer in 2006 and was re-elected in 2010. A foe of the federal bailout of Chrysler Corp., he lost a U.S. Senate race in 2012 to Democrat Joe Donnelly and will leave the office next year because of term limits. The following is condensed from a recent phone interview:

Q: As the chief investment officer managing $7 billion in state funds, you are restricted by the state constitution to U.S. government and U.S. agency securities. What are you doing to maximize returns as the Federal Reserve keeps its benchmark rate at almost zero?

A: The world being upside down as it is, we certainly have more money in deposit accounts right now than we’ve had in the past. We actually earn better interest there than we do from our normal federal paper.

Q: What would you do if the U.S. economic recovery spurs a rise in interest rates? How would you adjust the maturity of your holdings?

A: It’s all going to be about watching and measuring duration. So we’ll be adjusting duration, I suspect, trying to match the environment. We’d probably be looking at going out somewhat. We don’t trade much stuff; we generally hold it to maturity. So if we can find a way in increasing rates to start sliding a few things that way, we’d likely do so.

Q: How should Pence and his administration handle repaying to the federal government the $1.4 billion Indiana borrowed for unemployment benefits?

A: There will be real consideration of doing a bond issue to try to deal with that. With the potential of the rising-rate environment, I think it would be a good time for them to consider that. And if they ask me my advice, I would certainly suggest they take a serious look.

Q: During an October 2012 debate for your Senate race, you answered a question about pregnancy from rape by saying life is a gift from God. You later said your statement was twisted by opponents to suggest God pre-ordains rape. What was your lesson from that incident?

A: If there is a moral to that story in a political sense, sometimes you just need to express less rather than more. That goes against my nature; I’m a pretty transparent person. And sometimes as a candidate, unfortunately, transparency is not necessarily an attribute.

Q: You have a master’s degree in geology from Ball State University and worked in the energy business for 30 years. Has there been a time when you were able to apply your experience as a geologist to your work as treasurer?

A: I learned years ago as a geologist the fundamental fact of economics is that all wealth comes from the earth. It comes from what we grow, what we harvest, what we dig up, what we mine, what we pump, what we produce. And then we put it in this chain of events we call our economy. Having that bit of background, I think, has always given me a unique look at the world of finance.

ADVERTISEMENT

  • "Decode" bond comment
    Good question. I believe Treasurer Mourdock is stating that a possible option for settling the state's $1.4 billion debt to the federal government is to borrow the money in the municipal bond market at today's low interest rates before rates start moving up, thus minimizing interest costs.
  • ????
    My business (and all others) pay thousands of dollars in tax surcharages for the default on these loans. And we have never had a layoff!!! We are just paying for our Pence-Daniels administration irresponsible state finances. Can some onedecode what Mourdock states here??? I don't get it. Q: How should Pence and his administration handle repaying to the federal government the $1.4 billion Indiana borrowed for unemployment benefits? A: There will be real consideration of doing a bond issue to try to deal with that. With the potential of the rising-rate environment, I think it would be a good time for them to consider that. And if they ask me my advice, I would certainly suggest they take a serious look.
    • No, not odd
      The question was not odd...it was a relevant and timely question as Roe V Wade was being assaulted. What's odd id that you don't seem to get that.
    • Five Questions
      Mr. Mourdock's answer was a good one though expressed in a way that allowed his opponent and the press to misconstrue what he said and what he meant. Isn't it odd that a question on rape and abortion was inserted into a race for the United States Senate at the last minute?
      • Note to Richard
        Richard - honestly, you don't seem like a bad guy, but here's some advice: maybe try to express better, not less. Transparency from our politicians is ALWAYS a good thing.

        Post a comment to this story

        COMMENTS POLICY
        We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
         
        You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
         
        Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
         
        No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
         
        We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
         

        Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

        Sponsored by
        ADVERTISEMENT

        facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

        Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
        Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
         
        thisissue1-092914.jpg 092914

        Subscribe to IBJ
        1. Here are a few candidates for this new group, "ripped from the headlines." First up, that bizzaro State Senator Brent Waltz; secondly, the unethical Todd Huston, and his contractual arrangements scheme; Finally, but not least of all, the dishonorable Eric Turner. What sayeth you Greg Zoeller?

        2. Good day. I can't hide this great testimony that take place in my life I will love everyone to know it and be partaker that is why I always place it on answer, I am Mrs,Natalie Cuttaia by name, I live in Texas, United State Of America, I want to thank (Mr.Bruce Brandon) for his kindness upon my family life. I never knew that there is still nice lender like this on internet and earth here. Just some Months Back, I was in search for a loan of $100,000,00 as I was running out of money for feeding and rent. I was scammed $6,800 Dollars and I decided not to involve my self in such business again but a Friend of my introduced me to a loan firm due to my appearance and doings. And I told him that I am not interested of any loan deal anymore but he told me that there is still a nice lender who he will recommend me to, and I made a trial and I am most grateful lucky am I today, I was given a loan amount of $100,000.00usd, by this great Company (Bruce Brandon Loan Company) managed by (Mr.Bruce Brandon) If you are in need of a genuine or legit loan or financial assistance and you can be reliable and trusted of capable of paying back at the due time of the funds I will advice you to, contact him via: ( bruce.brandon071@gmail.com ) And you will be free from scams in the internet. All thanks to Mr.Bruce Brandon You are the one who remove me and my family out of poverty. The reason why i am doing this is that, i promise Mr.Bruce Brandon that if i truly got my loan, i will advertize his company and bring customers to his company. Contact him via ( bruce.brandon071@gmail.com )for the Loan you have been looking for..

        3. Hello, We are firm Organization formed to help people in needs of helps,such as financial help. So if you are going through financial difficulty or you are in any financial mess,and you need funds to start up your own business,or you need loan to settle your debt or pay off your bills,start a nice business, or you are finding it hard to obtain capital loan from local banks,contact us today via email mrsroseberrywilkinsfunds.usa@gmail.com So do not let these opportunity pass you by because Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever more. Please these is for serious minded and God fearing People. Your Name: Loan Amount: Loan Duration: Valid Cell Phone Number: Thanks for your understanding to your contact as we Await Regards Management Email:mrsroseberrywilkinsfunds.usa@gmail.com

        4. The question is, where could they build a new stadium? It seems in the past year, all the prime spots have been spoken for with potential projects. Maybe in the industrial wasteland area a block past Lucas Oil? I think it needs to be close to the core, if a new stadium is built.

        5. Aldi is generally a great shopping experience. Still, I'm sure YOU wouldn't want to shop there, which I consider a positive.

        ADVERTISEMENT