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The ($190 To) $250 Million Man
 

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We all knew that Mitt Romney's stint as founder of Bain Capital made him rich, but this week we got a better idea of exactly how rich he is. Or rather, approximately how rich. Thanks to the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, we now know that the Romney family is worth, at a minimum, between $92 million and $270 million. Helpfully, the Romney campaign issued a press release that narrowed the estimate of the couple's true wealth to between $190 million and $250 million.

In 47 pages, Romney's August 13th filing (which the Washington Post has made available as a PDF) lists all of the assets the Romneys hold and the income they've generated since the beginning of 2006. By my math, in the last 20 months, the Romneys have earned between just under $18 million to nearly $68 million in interest, dividends, and capital gains. That would suggest a return ranging from a paltry 7 percent to an eye-popping 383 percent. We'll just split the difference and say that as more and more Americans are surrendering their homes, the Romneys did exceedingly well.

So where do the Romneys stash their cash? Up to $30 million is, in fact, in cash. The Romneys maintain one Bank of America checking accounting with between $5 and $25 million and a second account holding up to $50,000. (The disclosure requires asset values to be reported in ranges; we'll stick to the upper boundary to keep things simple -- and because by the campaign's own admission it's closer to the mark.) Inexplicably, there's yet a third Bank of America checking account holding up to just $15,000. Also inexplicably, the $25 million account earned under $1,000 in vig, less even than the $50k account returned. Someone's not paying attention.

Apart from cash, the Romneys' assets are held by four entities: a blind trust and an IRA in his name, and a blind trust and IRA in hers. While there's no way no know if these entities reflect a true division between husband and wife -- and, indeed, there's no reason to think that -- Ann Romney is quite well-to-do on her own. According to the disclosure, Ann wholly owns at least $25 million of the blind trust in her name. (Each of these 25 investments is reported as "over $1,000,000," so it's likely they understate her net worth by millions, even tens of millions, of dollars.) And the campaign reports that the family has squired away another $100 million in a trust set up for the children.

In fact, the entities seem more divided by asset type. Bonds dominate Mitt's blind trust and in total comprise up to $83 million. (The Romneys are especially partial to Federal Home Loan Bank notes -- strengthening community lending!) Individual stocks reside in Mitt's trust -- they've been wholly liquidated from Ann's Blind trust and the IRAs -- and total up to just $32 million. Funds, primarily stock and private equity, comprise most of the rest, up to $132 million. And an awful lot of that money is denominated in Bains.

All told the Romneys own up to $77 million of Bain funds, Bain-affiliated funds, and Bain-financed funds. Most of the investments are made through Mitt's IRA, and the rest are held in Ann's trust -- including a share of Bain distributions estimated (conservatively, no doubt) at "over $1 million." From January 2006 through August 12th, these properties earned the Romneys between $10 million and nearly $29 million. (By the way, you heard it here first -- the other press accounts I've seen undercount the Bain take by nearly half.) Bain is truly the gift that keeps on giving.

Interestingly, real estate investments only account for under $2 million. And though Mitt Romney is often touted as a venture capitalist, venture investment scarcely figures into the family portfolio. As near as I can tell, only six investments, totaling between $1.5 million and $2.1 million, are plainly identified as venture money. Admittedly, the Romneys don't make their own investment decisions -- they created blind trusts to manage their wealth when he became governor -- but it raises an interesting question: Is Mitt Romney an entrepreneur?

But this is a blog, so we'll defer that question to another time. I'm hungry.

Last updated: Aug 16, 2007




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