Unpacking The Portfolio Pot-Shots

Andrew Sullivan —  Oct 17 2012 @ 3:37pm

Last night, after Obama attacked his opponent's profiting from China investments, Romney accused the president of personal holdings in Chinese companies and a Cayman-domiciled trust. Laura Clawson provides details:

Obama has between $50,000 and $100,000 in a defined benefit pension plan from the Illinois General Assembly (PDF)…, a pension in which he's one of hundreds of participants in a $60 million fund (PDF). The Romney campaign, by the way, is billing this as Obama's "personal pension fund." Every other member of the Illinois state legislature, past and present, might be surprised to hear this.

Luis Martinez and Jason Ryan note that the Illinois pension fund is Obama's sole investment holding. As for Romney's record, James West sketched out the candidate's involvement in managing his personal portfolio in a post last week:

Romney has said that he has no role in managing his personal investments; one of his aides told the Financial Times recently that [Romney's personal lawyer Bradford] Malt works "to make the investments in the blind trust conform to Governor Romney’s positions, and whenever it comes to his attention that there is something inconsistent, he ends the investment."

Sharon LaFraniere and Mike McIntire, meanwhile, recently examined some contradictions between Romney's estimated $1.25 million in Bain-based China investments and his tough-on-China politicking:

[A] confidential prospectus for one of the Bain funds, obtained by The New York Times, promotes China as a good investment for some of the same reasons that Mr. Romney has said concern him: “Strong fundamentals” like manufacturing wages 85 percent lower than what Americans earn, vast foreign exchange reserves and the likelihood that China will surpass the United States as the world’s largest economy.

LaFraniere and McIntire caution against reading too much into this, though:

It is often difficult to determine precisely how much Mr. Romney benefits from specific investments by Bain funds, since his money goes into a pool used to buy stakes in companies.