Mitt Romney would be the wealthiest president ever, Forbes calculates
Forbes Magazine analyzed Mitt Romney's wealth, including investments, real estate, and cash. It found $230 million in assets, while the total for the Obamas is nearly $6 million.
But among the 1 percenters in America today, there are millionaires and then there are millionaires.
Mr. and Mrs. Romney fall into the latter category, making them close to quarter-billionaires.
Forbes Magazine has just analyzed the Romneysâ 184 assets, breaking them into nine categories totaling $230 million. The figures come from disclosure forms filed with the US Office of Government Ethics in 2007 and 2011, plus discussions with high-level Romney officials familiar with changes made since the last report.
Edwin Durgy of the âForbes wealth teamâ is quick to point out that Romney isnât the richest person to run for president. That would be Ross Perot in 1992 and 1996. Also, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson probably were wealthier than Romney, when inflation and the worth of their Virginia plantations at the time are taken into account.
âBut thereâs no denying that in terms of total dollars a President Romney would be the wealthiest White House occupant ever,â Mr. Durgy writes, adding that Romney âwould be even wealthierÂ had he notÂ set aside a trust, nowÂ worth $100 million, for his 5 boys.â
According to Forbes, here is how the Romneysâ wealth breaks down:
Debt securities total $91 million, including $36 million worth of Federal Home Loan Banks consolidated obligations and an estimated $10 million of structured notes from Goldman Sachs and BNP Paribas. It also includes a personal loan of $400,000 to the Romneysâ horse trainer.
Romneyâs holdings in dozens of Bain & Company and Bain Capital funds, dating back to the years he spent working for the companies, total $52 million.
His other alternative investments total $29 million, a large chunk of which is managed by billionaire hedge-fund manager Paul Singer, who also donated $1 million to the Romney "super PAC" Restore Our Future. The Romneys hold another $23 million in mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs).
The worth of their real estate is estimated to total $18 million, including a beach house in La Jolla, Calif.; a town house in Belmont, Mass.; and a summer compound on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire.
Under the Romneysâ âtransportation,â Forbes lists two Cadillacs, a 2002 Chevy pickup truck, and a 2005 Ford Mustang, plus riding and show horses.
The couple also has $16 million in cash, including bank deposits, money-market accounts, and international currencies (Australian, Canadian, and British).
The government disclosure forms include vague asset ranges and definitions, Forbes points out. So how did they come to pencil out the Romneys' total wealth at $230 million? Here is Forbesâs description of the methodology used to analyze the assets:
âAssets that jumped to a higher bracket from one disclosure to the nextÂ were valued at the 25th percentile of the current range, while those that fell were valued at the 75th percentile of the current range. Assets that stayed within their bracket were appreciated at the market rate from their initial median value through May 14; benchmark indexes were used as proxies for nonmarketable assets. Real estate was valued based on current property values; for cars we used the values as assessed by the local assessorâs office.â
How does all this compare with Mr. and Mrs. Obama's wealth?
âBased on our research, the Obamas are actually worth less than they were last May, when Barack Obama previously filed,â Forbes reports. The total for them is nearly $6 million, most of it âin plain vanilla US treasurys.â
Why the drop in wealth? For one thing, book royalties from Obamaâs âThe Audacity of Hopeâ and âDreams From My Fatherâ are decreasing at a faster rate than previously estimated.
Still, notes Forbesâs Erin Carlyle, thatâs ânot too bad for a pair of HarvardÂ LawÂ School grads who skipped the corporate track to become a community activist and a hospital communications director.â