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Politics

Romney's Inscrutable Personal Finances

His vast fortune spreads out across numerous investments. His wealth is highly diversified and mostly hidden.

Financial disclosures filed by Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney reveal an investment portfolio that's sophisticated, well-diversified, and complex to the point of opaqueness, as you might expect with a multimillionaire who made his fortune working at an investment firm.

In fact, an analysis of Romney's personal finances, as we have done with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, is virtually impossible given how much isn't known about his fortune. For one thing, Romney has numerous investments that don't disclose their holdings. For another, federal disclosure requirements use vast income ranges as wealth increases, making any substantive assessment meaningless.

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This much is clear: With a portfolio worth somewhere between $83 million and $264 million Romney has a finger in virtually every pie.

His fixed-income investments include a bank deposit with Goldman Sachs that's worth between $5 million and $25 million; short- and medium-term debt securities from the Federal Farm Credit Bank and the Federal Home Loan Banks, with interest rates ranging from less than 1% to 5.5%; a Goldman Sachs-managed fund that invests in inflation-protected securities; and government bonds issued by Australia, Canada, Norway and Sweden.

Romney sold almost all of his individual stocks last year, including holdings in Abbot Labs, Apple, Cisco Systems, Costco, ExxonMobil, General Mills, Google, Johnson & Johnson, McDonalds and Pepsico. However, he continues to own some U.S. stock funds, including SPDR S&P 500 ETF, an exchange-traded fund that tracks Standard & Poor's 500-stock index, and Goldman Sachs Small Cap Value Fund. He also holds structured notes – derivative securities – that to some degree track the S&P 500 and the Russell 2000 small-company stock index while also providing some protection from the risk of a market reversal.

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Romney also has a considerable amount of money invested overseas. He has between $1 million and $5 million in iShares S&P Europe 350 Index, an ETF that tracks European stocks; and $500,000 to $1 million in the S&P Emerging Europe SPDR ETF, which invests in stocks from emerging European markets He's got another $500,000 to $1 million in iShares S&P Latin America 40 Index, an ETF of Latin American stocks. Romney owns structured notes that bet on European emerging-markets stocks. He also owns between $250,000 and $500,000 in gold, some real estate funds and bets on commodities through more structured notes.

However, a good portion of Romney's assets are in hedge funds that won't reveal the nature of their portfolios. Millions invested in hedge funds and limited partnerships, as well as in Bain Capital, Romney's former employer, are covered by footnotes that say that the reporting officials asked for investment specifics, but the funds refused to comply, saying the nature of their investments was confidential and proprietary.

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