OnCollege: Making the most out of financial aid

Many families overestimate the amount of financial aid they expect to receive or they dont anticipate loans being a part of the overall financial aid award.

This can be a surprise for many families who were hoping for more aid to finance their childs upcoming college education. One of the expectations is that families — parents and students — have a responsibility to contribute toward college tuition and costs. Colleges are not required to meet the full need of all its students, but many do make a commitment to do so. If you did not get as much money as you want, there is often little that can be done. If you truly cannot afford the amount the college has calculated, it is worthwhile to negotiate.

The first step is to thoroughly go through your finances and understand how the calculation for financial aid is completed. This is important so that you can lay out your best possible case. Some debts, such as for a car or credit card, do not help you. Many families try to argue that they cannot afford tuition because they are paying off one or both of these debts. Retirement funds are also protected. Neither the government nor colleges expect you to sacrifice your retirement savings in order to pay for college. Most other assets are fair game — cash, savings, equity in real estate (not your primary residence), investments, etc. While you may not want to pull money out, what better an investment than your child?

Central Financial Services announces awards

Central Financial Services (CFS) held its annual Holiday Awards Banquet January 30, 2015, at The Country Club of Lincoln. This event celebrates CFS associates for excellence in life insurance, annuity and securities markets. The following individuals were honored for their 2014 achievements:

Bruce Kruse, LUTCF (Kearney) Associate of the Year. Tim Walla, CFP, Walla Street Wealth Management, Inc. (Leawood, Kan.) Securities Associate of the Year. Mike Messersmith (Gothenburg) Top Life Leader Award. Thomas E. Cook (Lincoln) Top Annuity Leader Award. Lori Teaford, OSJ/branch manager (Lincoln) Most Valued Associate. Michael Cooper, LUTCF (Lincoln) New Associate of the Year

Life amp; Annuity Leader Awards: Thomas E. Cook; Denny Danielson (York); Jeff Bryant (Arkansas City, Kan.); Mike Messersmith amp; Todd Kelley, CFEd (Lincoln).

Life Leader Awards: Bruce Kruse, LUTCF; Dale Erwin (Dakota Dunes, SD); Randy Jackson (Prior Lake, Minn.) amp; Denny Danielson. Annuity Leader Awards: Jeff Bryant; Denny Danielson; Bruce Kruse, LUTCF amp; Todd Kelley, CFEd.

Securities Leader Awards: Curtis Harrington (Omaha); Ken Wells, CEBS, Walla Street Wealth Management, Inc.; Mark Ricklefs, CFP, CLU, ChFC (Wichita); Mike Messersmith; Ken Broman, CFEd (Lincoln); Michael Rood, The Retirement Store (Overland Park, Kan.); Darcy Yocum, Yocum amp; Associates, LLC (Glenwood, Iowa); Mark Saferstein (Omaha); James O. Davidson, CLU, ChFC (Lincoln); Todd Kelley, CFEd amp; Dirk Bargen (Columbus). Top Securities Office Award: CFS-Lincoln: Lori Teaford, OSJ/branch manager.

Central Financial Services is headquartered in Lincoln, Neb., with associates practicing in 17 states nationwide.

Central Financial Services, Walla Street Wealth Management, Inc., The Retirement Store amp; Yocum amp; Associates, LLC, are independent financial services firms offering comprehensive planning services, life insurance and annuities. Securities amp; investment advisory services are offered solely through Ameritas Investment Corp. (AIC), member FINRA, SIPC. Central Financial Services, Walla Street Wealth Management, Inc., The Retirement Store amp; Yocum amp; Associates, LLC, are not affiliated with AIC. Additional products and services may be available through Central Financial Services, Walla Street Wealth Management, Inc., The Retirement Store amp; Yocum amp; Associates, LLC, that are not offered by AIC.

DIA gains independence, but firm financial commitment still to come

After an ambitious plan to revitalize downtown got the green light from City Hall last week, the Downtown Investment Authority now calls the shots for redeveloping the city’s core.

Many studies offered recommendations in the past to renew downtown, but until now never has an agency had the decision-making power to create a plan and execute it without City Council approval, a streamlined process that was one of the main reasons behind its creation.

While the Downtown Investment Authority now oversees downtown redevelopment, it has yet to achieve significant financial independence. Still, that likely won’t hinder the authority from carrying out the smaller projects in its plan to develop both sides of the St. Johns River and taking steps toward the more ambitious ones.

But to accomplish all of the goals it set for 2025 — which includes developing vacant tracts of city-owned land and bringing 10,000 new residents to downtown — the authority will need more money from the city, according to the people behind the creation of the entity and in charge of running it.

“I don’t think there’s any question about it, [and] I think for that to happen, the DIA needs to be able to show whether it can perform,” said Bob Rhodes, a member of the Jacksonville Civic Council, who sat on its task force that recommended the Downtown Investment Authority. “They have to understand dollars are tight, and the DIA will have to build a track record of execution for bigger dollars to come.”

In its report issued in 2011, the Civic Council task force looked at other areas in Florida and found successful downtown renewals were led by an entity solely focused on redeveloping the area that was both independent and well-financed.

The authority’s independence would make it a “one-stop shop” that could approve projects and attract businesses with incentives without navigating through multiple levels of government. It would also protect the authority from the changing priorities associated with elected officials entering and leaving office and allow it to pursue a plan beyond a single mayoral administration.

While the authority would have multiple revenue sources, the report said the city should also consider using money from its general fund to supplement the authority’s budget.

The authority has created a plan to develop both the Southbank and Northbank areas and a timetable to accomplish it, but it has yet to determine how much many of the projects will cost.

The task force’s report estimated the authority would need a budget of about $29 million.

Aundra Wallace, chief executive officer of the Downtown Investment Authority, said the authority’s budgetary needs will be determined by specific projects, and it was too early to say what that would be.

“What I will say is this. To be effective, it takes two types of resources: human capital and financial capital,” Wallace said. “We’re going to need staffing. We’re going to need financial resources to do what everyone has envisioned us to do.”

Oliver Barakat, chairman of the Downtown Investment Authority’s governing board, also said he didn’t know an exact amount the authority would need, but that the city will need to commit money for it to carry out the plan.

“I think once we get these elections behind us, we’ll need to have a serious conversation with the community about what type of commitment we’ll make to revitalize downtown.”

The authority collects a tax on downtown properties, but much of that money has been spent or dedicated to future projects.

It will also receive a budget approved by the City Council, which is $2.5 million in its first year. Any projects or incentives offered beyond the amount of its budget will need the approval of the council.

Councilwoman Lori Boyer, a non-voting member of the authority’s board, said she believes it will gain more financial independence as downtown property values increase and its tax collections go up.

However, she said she doesn’t believe the council should bankroll a large budget for the authority to freely spend, and that high-cost projects and incentives should still be approved by the council.

Rhodes said the first few years will be crucial for the authority to prove its credibility with elected officials, which will be critical for its success. Convincing the community will be equally as important, Rhodes said, because the city can’t afford to fund the plan by itself.

“The city will never have all the resources to get the job done,” Rhodes said. “It’s really going to be the private sector to get it done.”

In the immediate future, the authority will use its first-year budget to begin installing public art, bike racks and banners to identify key areas downtown.

Those projects amount to roughly $800,000, and the authority has yet to choose how it will spend the remainder of its budget. Wallace said options are improving several city-owned properties, like the old courthouse, old City Hall and Snyder Memorial Church, to increase its marketability.

The authority will also begin pursuing its bigger projects, including a redevelopment of the Landing and Shipyards properties and converting one-way streets into two-way streets to make them more pedestrian friendly.

Wallace said the authority’s board next will review proposals for a redesign of the Landing. He said the authority will soon begin work with city officials to have its street conversion put into the city’s capital improvement plan.

The council must approve the capital improvement plan, and any deal involving the city-owned Shipyards or Landing tracts would need the council’s approval.

That makes it clear the authority will still need to closely work with City Hall even with its new independence, Wallace said.

“Let’s just cut to the chase: We only have such a finite amount of money,” Wallace said. “Anything we do will take a relationship and partnership with the city. Our job is to vet the projects … and then work with the city administration and City Council.”

Christopher Hong: (904) 359-4272

First NBC Bank Holding Company Announces 2014 Fourth Quarter Results

NEW ORLEANS, Jan. 30, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — First NBC Bank Holding Company (Nasdaq:FNBC), the holding company for First NBC Bank (Company), today announced financial results for the fourth quarter of 2014. For the quarter ended December 31, 2014, the Company reported net income available to common shareholders of $15.3 million, or $0.82 per share, as compared to $14.0 million, or $0.75 per share, for the third quarter of 2014 and $13.0 million, or $0.71 per share, for the fourth quarter of 2013.

The Companys earnings per share on a diluted basis were $0.80, $0.73, and $0.69 per diluted share, for the fourth quarter of 2014, third quarter of 2014, and fourth quarter of 2013, respectively. This represents an increase of $0.07 per diluted share, or 9.6%, over the third quarter of 2014, and an increase of $0.11 per diluted share, or 15.9%, over the fourth quarter of 2013.

Performance Highlights

  • The Company continues to experience strong asset growth, with total assets of $3.8 billion at December 31, 2014, an increase of 14.1% from December 31, 2013.
  • The Companys total loans increased $416.5 million, or 17.7%, from December 31, 2013.
  • The Companys total deposits increased $390.0 million, or 14.3%, from December 31, 2013.
  • Net interest income for the fourth quarter of 2014 totaled $28.1 million, an increase of $0.3 million, or 1.2%, from the linked-quarter of 2014 and#xA0;an increase of#xA0;$4.0 million, or 16.5%, from the fourth quarter of 2013.
  • The Companys cost of deposits for the fourth quarter of 2014 was 1.50%, a decrease of 4 basis points on a linked-quarter basis and 8 basis points compared to the fourth quarter of 2013 due primarily to the implementation of its tiered pricing program on deposits.


The Companys loans totaled $2.8 billion at December 31, 2014, an increase of $75.6 million, or 2.8%, from September 30, 2014, and an increase of $416.5 million, or 17.7%, from December 31, 2013. Loan growth continues to be driven primarily by increases in construction, commercial real estate, and commercial loans due to favorable economic market conditions in the New Orleans trade area. The Companys loan pipeline continues to increase quarter over quarter due to the strong loan demand in the markets it services, which is evidenced by its year over year double digit percentage loan growth. The increase in the Companys construction loan portfolio of 54.3% from December 31, 2013 was due primarily to the funding of construction loans related to hotels, residential real estate development, and federal tax credit related projects.

As the Company stated in prior quarters, the growth in the Companys commercial loan portfolio was due in part to the growth in the oil and gas industry, specifically with respect to oil and gas service companies. The oil and gas commercial loan portfolio is approximately 3% of the Companys total loan portfolio. The Company has outstanding loan commitments related to the oil and gas portfolio of approximately $15.1 million as of December 31, 2014. The Company is actively monitoring these credits. The growth in the commercial portfolio over the linked-quarter was due primarily to increases in other segments of the Companys commercial loan portfolio.

The following table sets forth the composition of the Companys loan portfolio as of the dates indicated.

Laid-off RadioShack employees lose severance

Recently laid-off RadioShack employees are getting hit a second time.

Former employees who were counting on severance pay are now in line with everyone RadioShack owes money to: landlords, consultants, suppliers and utilities, not to mention secured lenders.

Terminated employees at RadioShack used to walk away with a lump sum based on their years of service. Two months before its bankruptcy filing last Thursday, the company changed its severance policy from a lump sum to weekly or biweekly payments until the full amount is reached.

Longtime employees who were laid off in December and January were collecting severance when RadioShack filed for bankruptcy. They won’t see another check unless the court grants it.

The severance package pays a maximum of 20 weeks’ pay based on employees’ years of service.

One former employee who didn’t want to be identified said she and former co-workers received their last payments a week ago and are now filing for state unemployment benefits that are well below the payout they were expecting.

The new employee severance policy was listed among cost-cutting measures in a memo dated Dec. 4 from CEO Joe Magnacca. In the same note, employees were told their 401(k) match was going away, stores were closing and additional layoffs were coming to the corporate office. An employee severance program document obtained by The Dallas Morning News describes the weekly and biweekly payouts.

RadioShack declined to comment on the decision to change the policy so soon before bankruptcy. This week, RadioShack asked the bankruptcy court to approve up to $3 million in bonuses for about 40 “key” employees it says are working to sell off and auction its 4,100 stores.

The company didn’t list the names of the employees but said eight executives would split the bulk of the bonuses. That plan could be turned down by the court and the creditors committee that hasn’t been formed yet. Creditors will meet with the court trustee on Friday.

In the December memo, Magnacca said, “Many of these moves can be difficult and our team is doing the best we can to ensure the future viability of RadioShack by undertaking tough change.”

Companies in desperate need of liquidity find it wherever they can get it, said Fred Fulton, a partner at law firm Thompson amp; Knight.

“Those laid-off employees may see some money from their claims, but probably not when they need to pay next month’s rent,” Fulton said.

In the lines that form in bankruptcy court, laid-off employees who are still owed severance would come behind current employees, financial advisers, lawyers, investment bankers and secured creditors. They may be ahead of general unsecured creditors such as suppliers and utilities.

RadioShack hired multiple advisers over the last two years, including AlixPartners, Lazard Ltd., Peter J. Solomon Co., Maeva Group LLC and FTI Consulting. Those firms are still under contract.

Current employees are worried there won’t be any money left for their severance pay after the consultants are paid.

Last week, RadioShack filed notices with the state of Texas saying it expects to terminate more than 1,000 people in Fort Worth as soon as next month.

It’s unclear what will happen to employees who are laid off over the next few weeks, but it’s likely they will first file for unemployment. The downtown Fort Worth headquarters employs 683 people, and the distribution facilities have 344 workers. Another 25,000 people work in stores.

While employee benefits have taken a hit since the recession, severance pay is still a widely offered perk.

According to human resources professional organization WorldatWork, only 14 percent of companies surveyed late last year said they don’t have a severance program. The most common consideration for the amount of severance received (92 percent) is still years of service.

Follow Maria Halkias on Twitter at


Associated Students undergo financial setback

Many CSUN clubs and organizations are feeling a financial strain on their semester events this spring due to the unusually low budget Associated Students has reported.

AS is responsible for funding numerous events on campus that are sponsored and planned by student-run clubs and organizations. ASs reported low financial budget has caused many clubs and organizations to turn to other means of allocating funds since AS has been falling short of their request budget. This has caused a financial chaos on clubs who are seeking help from AS to fund their event for the spring 2015 semester. Their low budget has left many students in shock; often feeling disappointed AS couldnt provide additional help.

CSUN Gospel Choir, CSUN Model United Nations and TRENDS have requested a specific budget from AS in order to fund their semester events, however, all three clubs only received about a third of their asking price.

On behalf on the Chair of Finance, Emily Priyatmo, who was absent at the meeting, AS Vice-President Talar Alexanian, stated that the balances are fairly low for this time in the semester. She urged senate to be careful with what they approve and to not increase the allocations.

The CSUN Gospel Choir requested $7,555 for their choir production, they only received $500. CSUN Model United Nations requested $19,500 and received $5,000. TRENDS wished to allocate $4,043 for their annual fashion show and received $1,000.

All three clubs had asked AS to increase their funding but only one club was granted that request . Prior to the meeting, AS had agreed to allocate $3,600 for Model UN. However, due to senates discussion, they increased their allocation to $5,000. During an open forum dissuasion the president of the Gospel club asked senate to reconsider the amount given and to increase their allocation to $3,000.

Its shocking to see only a quarter of the money. We need their help to pay for marketing and the venue, said Vice-President of TRENDS, Elvis Smith. We now have to push for more fundraising events.

Joshua Henderson asks AS senate members to increase funding for Model United Nations Program during the open forum segment of the AS senate meeting on Feb. 16, 2015 in the Grand Salon. Wynnona Loredo / Staff Photographer

According to Alexanian, Model UNs case is a unique situation when discussing funding because it acts as both a club and a class therefore it also receives additional funding from other campus organizations and the department.

I recommend to increase their funding to $5,000 in order to help fund their local California events. However, they still need money to go to New York, said Alexanian.

We are grateful for what we got but we just want to communicate with them on how important this event is. It is a 30 year old tradition and we keep growing each year, we are know at 700 participants and guest, Smith said.

Smith, along with TRENDS faculty advisor Shirley Warren, stated that the show must go one no matter what occurs financially.

Former AS student body members walk with current AS vice president Talar Alexanian (right) to the place roses on the matador statue on Presidents Day. Wynnona Loredo / Staff Photographer

Feb. 16 agenda highlights

o Senate appointed 4 new senators. They appointed Dikran Khodanian for Senator for the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences; Kathryn Kargari for Senator for the College of Arts, Media, and Communications; Josselyn Partida for Senator for the College of Arts, Media, and communications and Nancy Alonzo, Graduate Senator

o Approved funding for AS marketing workstations, TRENDS fashion show, CSUN Gospel Choir and CSUN Model United Nations.

o The Tradition of the Rose allows CSUN students to place a red rose underneath the Matador statue in celebration, victory, and when overcoming a challenge or difficulty. You can also place a rose in honor and memory of a fallen matador.

o Approved the name change of the CSUN Russian Club and Campus Advance.

o Approved the constitution of the Model African Union Club

o Hosted a Presidents day honorary event for past AS presidents

Paul Krugman: Nobody understands debt

Many economists, including Janet Yellen, view global economic troubles since 2008 largely as a story about deleveraging — a simultaneous attempt by debtors almost everywhere to reduce their liabilities. Why is deleveraging a problem? Because my spending is your income, and your spending is my income, so if everyone slashes spending at the same time, incomes go down around the world.

Or as Yellen put it in 2009, Precautions that may be smart for individuals and firms — and indeed essential to return the economy to a normal state – nevertheless magnify the distress of the economy as a whole.

So how much progress have we made in returning the economy to that normal state? None at all. You see, policymakers have been basing their actions on a false view of what debt is all about, and their attempts to reduce the problem have actually made it worse.

First, the facts: Last week, the McKinsey Global Institute issued a report titled Debt and (Not Much) Deleveraging, which found, basically, that no nation has reduced its ratio of total debt to GDP. Household debt is down in some countries, especially in the United States. But its up in others, and even where there has been significant private deleveraging, government debt has risen by more than private debt has fallen.

You might think our failure to reduce debt ratios shows that we arent trying hard enough – that families and governments havent been making a serious effort to tighten their belts, and that what the world needs is, yes, more austerity.

Banks likely to miss out in Calcutta HC’s winding-up order on Corporate Power

In what could be a setback for lenders to Corporate Power, the Calcutta High Court has ordered the Abhijeet Group-promoted firm to be wound up in response to a petition filed by an employee last year. A consortium of nine banks has loaned the company a combined R4,712 crore. Meanwhile, State Bank of India had been scouting for a buyer and was close to shortlisting one but the court’s verdict may upset its plans.

The case highlight how public sector banks have been hamstrung in dealing with stressed assets by regulations that require them to set a reserve price for an asset and call an auction to dispose of an asset. If the first auction isn’t successful, a new reserve price must be fixed and a second auction called before a bilateral negotiation can begin. The problem, as bankers have pointed out, is that the process takes a long time, often defeating the purpose. Bankers have also not been able to convert their loans into equity at a price that is favourable to them because of the rules put out by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi).

The legal process has been virtually ineffective, further frustrating the efforts of banks to recover their dues. Reserve Bank of India (RBI) data show loans worth more than R2 lakh crore were pending at 33 debt recovery tribunals (DRTs) till FY14, up from R1.43 lakh crore in FY13. The amount recovered from cases decided in the DRTs in 2013-14 was R30,590 crore while the value of loans sought to be recovered was R2.36 lakh crore.

Thus, only 13% of the outstanding NPAs in the tribunals were recovered in FY14. The Manoj Jayaswal-led Abhijeet Group is allegedly among the biggest beneficiaries of the controversial coal block allotments; the company got blocks in Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. Corporate Power, which is primarily into coal-based power plants, had sought restructuring under the corporate debt restructuring scheme in 2013, which did not materialise. “As such, the company, namely, Corporate Power, is directed to be wound up in accordance with the provisions of the Companies Act,” justice Biswanath Somadder said in an order on Tuesday. He added that the official liquidator will take possession of all the assets and properties of the company, now in liquidation, and take charge of its books, records, documents and transactions.

An employee of the company had approached the court in July last year to get salary dues of R6.4 lakh and asked other creditors to join the petition in November.

A lawyer familiar with the case said that since banks did not join the petition, only secured lenders would get the benefits of liquidation. “First, government dues like tax deducted at source and provident fund would be settled, followed by employee salaries and finally banks would get their share,” he said.

Justice Somadder said that the petitioner will cause a gist of the order to be published in the same newspapers where the winding-up petition had been advertised. “The petitioner as well as the supporting creditors will be entitled to pursue their claims in accordance with law before the official liquidator,” he added.

Corporate Power had appealed against the winding-up petition and the division bench had observed that Rajendra Kumar is entitled to the unpaid salary and other benefits and dismissed the appeal by imposing R10,000 on CPL.

Queensland’s biggest economic challenge isn’t debt – it’s growth

Queensland has a new Labor minority government, led by Annastacia Palaszczuk, after the shock defeat of the Liberal National Party. Labor’s pre-election promises were “modest”, leaving many now wondering about the government’s policy agenda. Our experts examine some of the big challenges facing Australia’s third most populous state.

Dear Premier Palaszczuk,

As you meet with Queensland business leaders on Tuesday and get down to the business of governing, you’re sure to face many immediate preoccupations and challenges. But considering the economy was the dominant issue of this election, I would like to provide three pieces of advice for your new Labor minority government.

The economy is ultimately about people

First of all, I would encourage you to remember that the ultimate objective of economic policy is to promote inclusive economic growth and welfare. I use the word inclusive here to mean that all individuals, especially those at the bottom end of income distribution, should be guaranteed access to the benefits and opportunities arising from the increasing pace of economic activity. It is only by being inclusive that growth can effectively generate “development”.

Budget, taxes, debt and expenditure are only tools that the government can use to achieve the fundamental goals of inclusive growth and welfare. Unfortunately, in the recent past both the federal and Queensland governments have mistaken tools for objectives.

This has led to a policy of “minimisation”: to minimise debt, minimise deficit, and minimise expenditure. This is hardly a good way to run fiscal policy. On the contrary, inclusive growth and welfare become more difficult to achieve when the only purpose of policy is to shrink the size and scope of government, thus compromising its ability to supply public goods and to stabilise the economy against cyclical shocks.

There are two important features that should instead characterise good fiscal policy.

One is the synchronisation of expenditure with the business cycle. Cutting expenditure just to balance the budget in a time of economic contraction will only make the contraction worse. Conversely, when the economy slows down, the government should increase expenditure and possibly run a deficit. This will help the economy recover.

That is not just theory: my own research on Australia indicates that one extra dollar of government expenditure generates more than one dollar of gross domestic product (GDP). I have done similar research for Queensland, which is yet to be published but which found a similar result.

Of course, the increase in expenditure and deficit in time of contraction must be offset by expenditure cuts and surpluses in time of economic expansion. This counter-cyclical pattern of government expenditure and deficit will ensure that the economy is stabilised in response to shocks, and there is no accumulation of debt in the long-term.

The second feature of good fiscal policy is attention to quality considerations in public investment. It is rather common to think that economic growth is just a matter of investment, and hence that the best (and possibly only) way in which governments can support growth is by throwing money into some infrastructure projects.

But the quality of investment and spending is as important as its quantity. Quality, for instance, means that upgrading the curriculum or promoting work-integrated learning is as important as building a new school.

Similarly, the growth payoff from building a tunnel that does not really address any transport bottlenecks or does not facilitate connectivity between market nodes is going to be small. I guess that the general message here is: public investment in infrastructure is not a panacea, and there is more that the government should/can do to promote inclusive growth.

Obsession with debt

My second bit of advice Premier is to get some perspective on the “debt problem” of Queensland.

There is no question that Queensland debt has grown considerably since 2006-07, and that today the debt to GDP ratio in Queensland is higher than in the rest of Australia, as I showed in a recent article.

But from a policy perspective, what matters is not much the comparison with other states, but instead the extent to which debt is sustainable. Sustainability refers to the dynamics of the debt to GDP ratio in the long-term. It is a simple matter of algebra to show that debt is sustainable as long as the economy grows sufficiently fast.

So, the issue of sustainability is essentially a question of economic growth. If in the attempt to reduce debt you were to undertake cuts or actions that undermine the growth potential of the economy, then the debt problem would simply get worse.

Now, this does not mean that Queensland should take a course of fiscal profligacy. It means, however, that there is no need at this stage to make drastic measures to repay debt. The type of counter-cyclical fiscal policy previously described, coupled with sound interventions in support of growth, will be enough to prevent further debt accumulation and hence to ensure its sustainability.

I welcome your government’s decision to re-consider the proposed plan of asset privatisations. It is the wrong response to a problem that does not require any such strong choice.

From an economic perspective, there is simply no evidence to support the notion that the private sector always does it better. Certainly, there are several examples of successful privatisations of public assets. But there are also many instances where privatisation has not resulted in a decrease in price and/or an increase in consumer’s satisfaction.

What does the economic data tells us?

And this brings me to the last bit of advice: make sure that your team takes a comprehensive look at the economic data before making any big decisions.

If good fiscal policy means that government expenditure must be synchronised to the business cycle, then the government must be able to identify and even predict the phases of the cycle. This in turn requires making the most efficient use of the large volume of statistical information that is available today. That is, good economic policy must be guided by a good understanding of the economic data.

A good look at the data is also important in terms of communication. I do not think that it helps the cause of any government to advertise a strong economy when – as is the case in Queensland today – gross domestic income per capita is declining, the only jobs that are being created are part-time, and the unemployment rate is higher than what it was three years ago (with or without seasonal adjustment).

Read more of The Conversation’s Queensland election 2015 coverage, and more ‘Dear Premier’ policy articles at the Federal Future blog.