Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Continuing Crunch

A big question in my mind and probably others is how big is the investment of our "leaders" and others?
It's hard to find figures on this but there are some articles that provide some ideas:

"Henry Paulson, who was recently nominated to be the next treasury secretary, is facing a lot of tough choices. Should the former CEO of Goldman Sachs continue to promote environmental causes in an administration that loathes them? What should he say about the dollar? Should he buy a condo in Washington, or a mansion? Then there's the trickiest question of all: What should he do with the mountain of money he's earned at Goldman Sachs over the years?

Not since Nelson Rockefeller served as vice president during the Ford administration has a senior government official arrived in Washington with such a high net worth. Paulson owns some 4.58 million shares in Goldman Sachs (including restricted stock) worth about $700 million at today's price and surely has millions more in other instruments.

Conflict-of-interest laws say senior government officials can't hold on to investments that could benefit from decisions they might make. Meeting this requirement is comparatively easy for an upper-middle-class secretary of agriculture. Sell your stock in Archer Daniels Midland and direct your financial adviser to avoid it and similar stocks. But for a plutocrat who is about to become secretary of treasury, it's a much more difficult call. He can't choose the default mode that worked so well for former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, who put his cash into government bonds. Treasury secretaries are forbidden from buying government debt—after all, they issue that debt. (The T-bill strategy worked out remarkably well for Greenspan, who saw his net worth rise every time he slashed rates.) And putting the money in the simplest form of investment—a dollar-denominated savings account—would be both a poor investment for Paulson and a potential conflict of interest. After all, treasury secretaries frequently discuss currency exchange rates."

Trying to find info on Bernake has proven even more opaque. According to this he has modest holdings (not):

"With his income-earning potential, this is a man who can afford to take on a little more risk.

This assessment is based on news stories written when the Federal Reserve last week released the chairman's financial disclosure form that outlines in broad terms his personal finances. The annual disclosure is mandated by law with the Federal Reserve board members reporting their assets and income within broad ranges rather than by exact figures.

News reports on release of the disclosure form highlighted Bernanke's holdings in Canadian treasury bonds. What caught my eye, however, is the fact that the bulk of his portfolio is tied up in just two funds: a large cap stock fund and a fixed-rate annuity.

The CREF Stock Large Cap Blend fund and TIAA Traditional Bernanke holds are valued each at somewhere between $500,001 and $1 million, the Associated Press reported.

Bernanke, Fed chairman since February 2006, reported total assets ranging between $1.2 million and $2.5 million. That means the CREF stock fund and the TIAA annuity together could account for up to about 80 percent of his overall portfolio, depending upon where the exact asset figures fall within the broad ranges given."

This puts the concerns of an average American somewhere in the unmeasurable range of human suffering!

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