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Despite Criticisms, Obama's Investments Share Similarities with Romney's

2:15 PM, Aug 25, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
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President Obama used his most recent interview with the Associated Press, released today, once again to hit Mitt Romney for investing overseas. "[T]he small bits of disclosure that he has put forward indicate investments in the Bahamas, or Swiss bank accounts," Obama said of Romney.

obama and romney

Similarly, Obama has frequently used Romney’s career in the private equity business to try to define the Republican candidate as a corporate warrior more interested in profit than anything else.

Yet Obama’s investments show that his own money is not confined to this country alone—and, in fact, like many Americans, bits of Obama’s investments are spread across the world. Much of this money is in private equity, a sector President Obama previously praised (when he wasn’t running against Romney) and which he’s financially benefited from.

According to financial disclosure forms, President Obama has $50,000-$100,000 invested in the Illinois General Assembly Defined Pension Benefit Plan. 

That plan, as of June 2011, has $629,256,286 invested in private equity, which is about 5.46 percent of the total portfolio.

Indeed, the kind of investments the Illinois general assembly plan puts its money in seem to mirror the sort of investments that a company like Bain Capital—the private equity company once run by Romney—makes.

“The ISBI’s investments in Private Equity and Real Estate funds represent investment vehicles used for making investments in various equity and debt securities according to the investment strategies as determined by the fund managers at the commencement of the fund. Investment strategies of Private Equity funds include, but are not limited to, leveraged buyouts, venture capital, growth capital and mezzanine capital,” according to a “Comprehensive Annual Financial Report” of the portfolio that Obama is invested in.

The report, in fact, states that the private equity investments are “one of the best performing asset classes since its inception date.”

In fiscal year 2011, the ISBI’s private equity portfolio returned 27.0%. The private equity portfolio consists of interests in limited partnerships and other commingled vehicles that invest in management buyouts, venture capital, and other private placement equity strategy activities. The private equity asset class recovered from previous market disruptions and continues to be one of the best performing asset classes since its inception date.

Similarly, according to Obama’s financial disclosure forms, the president has money in the Vanguard 500 Index Fund Holdings. This financial investment has spread the president’s money across the globe.

The Vanguard fund is invested in foreign companies such as ACE Limited (based in Zurich Switzerland), Covidien Health Care (Dublin, Ireland), Ingersoll-Rand (Dublin, Ireland), Nabors Industries (Hamilton, Bermuda), Noble Corporation (Baar, Switzerland), XL Group (Dublin, Ireland, with offices in Bermuda), and TE Connectivity (Schaffhausen, Switzerland).

To be clear: There is nothing illegal or wrong about Obama’s investments. But it is a bit rich for the president of the United States to take aim at his political opponent for his investments when in fact Obama’s own financial investments are also in private equity holdings spread across the globe.

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