Author Topic: How do United States Congress members invest?  (Read 11391 times)

skyrefuge

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How do United States Congress members invest?
« on: November 13, 2014, 05:27:37 PM »
I just discovered (via this Ars Technica article) that the Financial Disclosure forms required for members of Congress are a data-nerd's gold-mine. Ever wanted to see how a random person invests? (meaning, not a pre-selected aspiring Mustachian coming to this forum for advice). That's not a chance we often get, but here are hundreds of such people! The disclosures let you peek pretty thoroughly into their entire financial situation, which is kind of fun.

The first three Congressmen from my state that I clicked on all had interesting things to note, and I wasn't sure whether this thread would be better here, or at the Antimustachian Wall of Shame and Comedy!

- Jan Schakowsky: Between her and her husband, they have maybe a dozen stock and bond mutual funds, several individual stocks, and a few bank accounts. Nothing Vanguard, and probably some fairly expensive funds. A little messy but nothing too crazy. Maybe most-encouraging of all, the biggest single asset is $50k-$100k in a 529 College fund (no other fund/account is greater than $50k, and most are much smaller).

But let's look at the liability side. Two mortgages, one on their home in Evanston, IL, the other on a summer home in Michigan City, Indiana, totaling between $350k-$750k, plus a home equity loan between $15k-$50k. That's a lot of debt, but probably not too out-of-the-norm. But then, HOLY SHIT, they have $80k-$165k in credit card debt!! Three separate cards, two from her spouse, so maybe that's some of what's going on, but, WTF?

- Aaron Schock: he's only 33, so he has a nice simple portfolio: a credit union account, a couple of property investments, and a taxable and Roth IRA account at Wells Fargo. The fun thing for him is that he just pasted his whole Wells Fargo statement into his disclosure, so we have exact details and not just price ranges. Hmm, maybe it's not so simple after all! His taxable + Roth grew about 24% in 2013 ($79k to $99k), which maybe isn't too bad, but it's hard to compare to anything since his taxable account has 18 funds and his Roth has 13. WTF?! He presumably has an adviser picking his funds, and I guess that's how they make it seem like they're doing something? Just buy tons of different funds? To his adviser's credit, nothing was bought/sold in 2013, but to Schock's discredit, he also added $0 to his investments in 2013.

- Brad Schneider: So the first two people each had a couple dozen different accounts/funds/properties to list. A little high and little messy, IMO. But Brad Schneider? He has seven hundred!!! It takes 37 pages to list all the holdings, and another 30 to list the transactions (which involves a lot of both buying and selling). It almost looks like a master list of "All possible securities available to purchase in the investment universe" rather than a personal portfolio. Stocks, funds, bonds, property-things, from all different institutions. Many of the dozens of separate accounts are held at Mesirow Financial, and, a-ha, his wife is a senior managing director at Mesirow Financial! Now it's starting to make some sense. Still, I can find no explanation for owning so many different things, beyond a pathological condition not too different from hoarders who fill their house with a thousand shoeboxes. There's no possible way anyone could make sense of what they own, and it can't actually make anything better for them! To their credit, their only debt is a home equity loan. Go Brad.

Here are the links to search for House and Senate:

http://clerk.house.gov/public_disc/financial-search.aspx
https://efdsearch.senate.gov

Post here fun stuff you find about your representatives!
« Last Edit: November 13, 2014, 05:30:56 PM by skyrefuge »

Cwadda

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Re: How do United States Congress members invest?
« Reply #1 on: November 13, 2014, 06:07:33 PM »
Neat tool. Thanks for the info.

hodedofome

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Re: How do United States Congress members invest?
« Reply #2 on: November 13, 2014, 06:10:57 PM »
What most people don't realize is that it's illegal to trade on insider knowledge...unless you are in Congress. It's true! There's no law against it, imagine that...

It's messed up but a lot of Congressman leave their office vastly richer than when they started. Insider trading in Washington is rampant and I wish the public knew more about it.

Wile E. Coyote

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Re: How do United States Congress members invest?
« Reply #3 on: November 13, 2014, 06:27:17 PM »
What most people don't realize is that it's illegal to trade on insider knowledge...unless you are in Congress. It's true! There's no law against it, imagine that...

It's messed up but a lot of Congressman leave their office vastly richer than when they started. Insider trading in Washington is rampant and I wish the public knew more about it.

They passed a law last year making it illegal for congress, etc to trade on non-public information.  It is amazing that it wasn't illegal before, but it appears to be now.

hodedofome

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Re: How do United States Congress members invest?
« Reply #4 on: November 13, 2014, 06:43:30 PM »
Well I'm glad they passed a law but will it be enforced?

BlueHouse

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Re: How do United States Congress members invest?
« Reply #5 on: November 13, 2014, 06:55:38 PM »
They passed a law last year making it illegal for congress, etc to trade on non-public information.  It is amazing that it wasn't illegal before, but it appears to be now.
with no teeth.  http://www.rollcall.com/news/congressional_insider_trading_revisited_but_dont_tell_anyone_commentary-224674-1.html

tj

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Re: How do United States Congress members invest?
« Reply #6 on: November 13, 2014, 06:59:11 PM »
This was a fascinating find. Thanks for posting.

viper155

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Re: How do United States Congress members invest?
« Reply #7 on: November 13, 2014, 07:50:43 PM »
Wow! Imagine the investing you could do if you didn't have to pay into Social Security like the hypocrites in Congress?

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Re: How do United States Congress members invest?
« Reply #8 on: November 13, 2014, 08:01:18 PM »
What most people don't realize is that it's illegal to trade on insider knowledge...unless you are in Congress. It's true! There's no law against it, imagine that...

It's messed up but a lot of Congressman leave their office vastly richer than when they started. Insider trading in Washington is rampant and I wish the public knew more about it.

They passed a law last year making it illegal for congress, etc to trade on non-public information.  It is amazing that it wasn't illegal before, but it appears to be now.

NEWSFLASH: That law was recently repealed.

Wile E. Coyote

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Re: How do United States Congress members invest?
« Reply #9 on: November 13, 2014, 09:33:22 PM »
What most people don't realize is that it's illegal to trade on insider knowledge...unless you are in Congress. It's true! There's no law against it, imagine that...

It's messed up but a lot of Congressman leave their office vastly richer than when they started. Insider trading in Washington is rampant and I wish the public knew more about it.

They passed a law last year making it illegal for congress, etc to trade on non-public information.  It is amazing that it wasn't illegal before, but it appears to be now.

NEWSFLASH: That law was recently repealed.

I don't believe it has been repealed.  The online disclosures were watered down for executive branch and some congressional staffers, but it is still the law.

hodedofome

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Re: How do United States Congress members invest?
« Reply #10 on: November 14, 2014, 07:40:59 AM »
From what I read last night it appears some still have to report their trades, but it is in paper form and you have to physically go to D.C. and read them yourself. So with it so difficult to find, it seems insider trading is still gonna happen more than we would like.

I just wish it wasn't so easy to hate those guys. I'm not a conspiracy guy but the evidence is just too great that a good lot of them are nothing but idiots/crooks/whatever bad name you want to come up with.
« Last Edit: November 14, 2014, 07:44:14 AM by hodedofome »

Terrestrial

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Re: How do United States Congress members invest?
« Reply #11 on: November 14, 2014, 08:18:19 AM »
who cares about investing when you can stuff your pockets with bribes.  blows stock market returns out of the water.

skyrefuge

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Re: How do United States Congress members invest?
« Reply #12 on: November 14, 2014, 08:56:40 AM »
Insider trading in Washington is rampant and I wish the public knew more about it.

I'm sure that it happens (happened), but at least from the small sample size I looked at, "rampant" seems like an exaggeration given the low level of financial sophistication I saw. Schakowsky sold Disney, Starbuck's, and Walgreens, but all on the same day, in amounts between $1k-$15k. Don't think she was making out like a bandit there; seems more like someone who just naively "bought what she knows" and then "sold what she thought she knew".

Though I guess maybe Schneider's insane portfolio and trading habits could be a way of burying inside-trades in the noise?

surfhb

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Re: How do United States Congress members invest?
« Reply #13 on: November 14, 2014, 09:38:10 AM »
Politics used to be for people who would take a sabbatical from their high paying gigs to serve their country.   

Meg Whitman put up $144 million of her own money to be elected governor in California.   I guess she was hoping to make a return on her investment?   

It boggles the mind that people who vote don't see the conflict of interest sitting under their noses when we pull that lever ;)

This is why I have a hard time voting.   I don't believe in the "lesser of 2 evils" philosophy
« Last Edit: November 14, 2014, 09:42:57 AM by surfhb »

skyrefuge

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Re: How do United States Congress members invest?
« Reply #14 on: November 14, 2014, 10:31:30 AM »
Yeah, ok, this isn't a "wah wah, politicians suck" whiny complainypants bullshit thread, so for all you people reflexively grousing from your front porch, please do something more useful:

I provided links to actual data! If you want to grouse about politicians, find something in their disclosure forms worthy of grousing, and post it here. Not only will you be a more-informed complainer (rather than someone just repeating tired old generalities your angry old uncle says), you'll actually be improving things by shining a light on bad behavior!

After all, that's how the insider-trading law came into being in the first place: 60 Minutes looked at these disclosure forms, declared that bad behavior was happening, and that report spurred Congress into action.

But I'm not convinced that the behavior they discovered was quite as bad as they declared it to be. Their prime culprit was Spencer Bachus, for whom they claimed during the financial crisis in September 2008:

"While Congressman Bachus was publicly trying to keep the economy from cratering, he was privately betting that it would, buying option funds that would go up in value if the market went down....
What we got was a statement from Congressman Bachus' office that he never trades on non-public information, or financial services stock. However, his financial disclosure forms seem to indicate otherwise. Bachus made money trading General Electric stock during the crisis, and a third of GE's business is in financial services.
"

Looking at his 2008 disclosure, which includes his full Fidelity brokerage statement, he did definitely make money: $30k in short-term capital gains on put and call options.  But I know next to nothing about options (and how they're accounted for), so I can't quite tell what he was doing. His trades seem pretty evenly spaced throughout the year, and when the crisis hit, they involved fewer individual stocks and more ETFs. And his trades on GE were all 'call' options; doesn't that mean he was betting that GE would go up, rather than down, as 60 minutes implied?

Here's his 2008 financial disclosure form: http://clerk.house.gov/public_disc/financial-pdfs/2009/8140079.pdf

His options trades start on page 8. The GE trades are on page 9 and 10. I think at least hodedofome has the experience to understand such statements; any conclusions?

Beric01

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Re: How do United States Congress members invest?
« Reply #15 on: November 14, 2014, 10:52:28 AM »
I do think this is really interesting. I found out my congressman (Mike Honda) had over $15K of credit card debt back in 2007. He also has apparently purchased annuities and has some very nice teaching retirement benefits, plus a ton (over $250K) in straight cash. Doesn't seem to have any real investments beyond the annuities though.

DeepEllumStache

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Re: How do United States Congress members invest?
« Reply #16 on: November 14, 2014, 10:54:15 AM »
Politics also has the impact and ego motivations.  Whitman may have been angling to be involved so she could change California towards her own vision and not making a direct "investment" with her campaign.

While there might be some members of Senate or Congress who have tossed their ethics and taken advantage of their knowledge, most aren't.  The media focuses on anything that could be perceived as insider info because it's a juicier story, whether it is or whether it just happens to be them randomly buying/selling. The intense scrutiny may even scare some of the representatives away from investing.

I pulled up some of the Texas representatives and they were pretty cut and dry. 

For Texas Senators -

Republican Ted Cruz is new to the Senate but has a very large number of different investments.  The filings look like someone with a very high income (and his wife too since it looks like she's a high flyer at Goldman Sachs) who had a large amount of money left over to save and tried to diversify. It's basically created a long list across funds and institutions that would give some of the Mustachian investors nervous tics.  I made a tally sheet and started humming the 12 days of Christmas adding it up.

Republican John Cornyn in the Senate was less complicated (he has a host of former company IRAs). 

The 2 Texas Congress representatives that I pulled were even less complicated.

Democrat Eddie Bernice Johnson (Dallas) used an online form and she had a pretty conservative filing - US Savings Bonds, pension, Social Security, mortgage.

Democrat Joaquin Castro's (San Antonio) form was filled in by hand and extremely uncomplicated for a man who just turned 40.  No funds listed at all.  He even had to submit a letter confirming that the <$5k in rental income he got in 2012 was not received in 2013.  They're dotting their i's and crossing their t's over here.

Left

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Re: How do United States Congress members invest?
« Reply #17 on: November 14, 2014, 10:58:17 AM »
so, explain why he still has debt when he has so much cash to pay it off? What's the benefit of that credit card debt? Or do they run it up and let someone else pay for it?

my guy apparently gets a lot of church pensions... for a non-profit, how does a church have a pension?
http://clerk.house.gov/public_disc/financial-pdfs/2013/10000725.pdf

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Re: How do United States Congress members invest?
« Reply #18 on: November 14, 2014, 11:24:37 AM »

so, explain why he still has debt when he has so much cash to pay it off? What's the benefit of that credit card debt? Or do they run it up and let someone else pay for it?

Obviously they should pay off the debt but I can think of some random things...
  • Tax issues with liquidating the funds they currently have... retirement or 529 accounts can't be touched without meeting their specific criteria for withdrawal.
  • Business or other requirements to keep a large amount of liquidity
  • Weird priorities (oh we need to pay that but we also need to own company XYZ because my cab driver said that they were going to go through the roof)
  • Low initial interest rate
  • Expectation of large expenses or a large down payment

my guy apparently gets a lot of church pensions... for a non-profit, how does a church have a pension?
http://clerk.house.gov/public_disc/financial-pdfs/2013/10000725.pdf

Looks like Emanuel Cleaver just turned 70, so the pension may be something he earned early in his career before 401ks took over for pensions.  401ks started in the early 80s and some companies did not shift older employees over to the new system.  My company typically only makes retirement benefit changes for those entering the company versus impacting the current or retired workforce.

waltworks

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Re: How do United States Congress members invest?
« Reply #19 on: November 14, 2014, 11:46:48 AM »
UT reps are pretty darn boring, which surprised me, since there's been a lot of news lately about corruption among LDS church folks (surprisingly, there are a lot of gullible LDS folks...)

The most interesting was one fellow who made over $250k in book royalties last year. Which, honestly, is something I'd tend to admire in a politician. If you can write well enough to make a quarter million a year in royalties, I'm guessing you're not stupid.

Oh, and they all live in houses that are listed as being >$.5million. Then again, most of them had mortgages on said houses.

I think some of the fund proliferation we see is the product of people being too lazy to roll over retirement accounts when they switch jobs. A couple folks had 15-20 investment accounts but then again I have 10 (IRAs, 401ks, taxable, some TIAA-CREF from wife's old job, 529, etc - adds up).

What a neat resource.

-W

theonethatgotaway

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Re: How do United States Congress members invest?
« Reply #20 on: November 14, 2014, 12:57:03 PM »

They passed a law last year making it illegal for congress, etc to trade on non-public information.  It is amazing that it wasn't illegal before, but it appears to be now.



Good to know this was finally updated! I forgot who, but one major publication did an article a few years about outlining all the investments and timelines using OPs data along with congressional laws to show just how OFTEN insider trading was used and the wealth accumulated. I don't think it was widely known before the article.

tj

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Re: How do United States Congress members invest?
« Reply #21 on: November 14, 2014, 02:55:17 PM »
Dianne Feinstein has a 30 year mortgage between 1 and 5 million, crazy. Also has 50k/year pension from the city of San Francisco.  Had Vangaurd Lifestrategy funds, but sold them last year.

xenon5

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Re: How do United States Congress members invest?
« Reply #22 on: November 14, 2014, 08:26:24 PM »
Very interesting! 

In New Jersey:
Senator Cory Booker
Direct holdings in about a dozen individual companies and a couple of mutual funds/index funds.  Most of the holdings are between $1k-$15k.  He's invested between $15-50k each in American Tower Corporation, Netflix, and one mutual fund.  He does have VBINX, but only $1-15k in that too.  For some reason a lot of his equities are listed twice.  No debt listed.  $15-$50k in cash.
https://efdsearch.senate.gov/search/view/annual/fe9962a4-8d3d-4643-bf6a-03030d0a9fba/

Senator Robert Menendez
Tons of cash and a rental property.  Somewhere between $80k-200k in cash between 3 checking and savings accounts, a rental property worth $250k-500k, and $1k-15k in MetLife (it looks like stock, not an annuity).  He has $50-100k in mortgage debt.
https://efdsearch.senate.gov/search/view/annual/366d0de3-9e48-48ce-9ed8-b5463400fbb1/


I don't understand these balances, especially for Menendez.  So much cash sitting around doing nothing, not even paying off the mortgage!  No risk spread either, he's all in on one rental property.
 
« Last Edit: November 14, 2014, 08:36:51 PM by xenon5 »

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Re: How do United States Congress members invest?
« Reply #23 on: November 15, 2014, 01:41:31 AM »
Dianne Feinstein has a 30 year mortgage between 1 and 5 million, crazy. Also has 50k/year pension from the city of San Francisco.  Had Vangaurd Lifestrategy funds, but sold them last year.

Any questions on why the clowns in D.C. can't submit a balanced budget and the taxpayers are saddled with a trillion dollar debt?

Some of the Mustachians and and Bogleheads should consider running for office. I'm serious.

Added note: Feinstein ' s husband is an Investment banker with a net worth in the millions. Why she is carrying a mortgage is beyond me.
« Last Edit: November 15, 2014, 01:44:21 AM by BEN_BANNED »

Jags4186

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Re: How do United States Congress members invest?
« Reply #24 on: November 16, 2014, 03:56:25 PM »

Very interesting! 

In New Jersey:
Senator Cory Booker
Direct holdings in about a dozen individual companies and a couple of mutual funds/index funds.  Most of the holdings are between $1k-$15k.  He's invested between $15-50k each in American Tower Corporation, Netflix, and one mutual fund.  He does have VBINX, but only $1-15k in that too.  For some reason a lot of his equities are listed twice.  No debt listed.  $15-$50k in cash.
https://efdsearch.senate.gov/search/view/annual/fe9962a4-8d3d-4643-bf6a-03030d0a9fba/

Senator Robert Menendez
Tons of cash and a rental property.  Somewhere between $80k-200k in cash between 3 checking and savings accounts, a rental property worth $250k-500k, and $1k-15k in MetLife (it looks like stock, not an annuity).  He has $50-100k in mortgage debt.
https://efdsearch.senate.gov/search/view/annual/366d0de3-9e48-48ce-9ed8-b5463400fbb1/


I don't understand these balances, especially for Menendez.  So much cash sitting around doing nothing, not even paying off the mortgage!  No risk spread either, he's all in on one rental property.

Looks like booker also made several hundred thousand speaking in 2013 on top of his 2013 salary from Newark of $113k (maybe partial salary?) and his senate salary....it's good to be a politician.

rmendpara

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Re: How do United States Congress members invest?
« Reply #25 on: November 16, 2014, 08:52:05 PM »
Seems it would be difficult to enforce an insider trading law on members of Congress... as they are presumably privy to information about taxes, interest rates, property law changes, social security, etc, before the general public, especially if one is considered at the time to be "material information" to the general investment universe.

I get that if they bought XYZ company stock right before they won a big federal government loan that Congress approved, then that's obviously unfair; however, short of blatant insider trading like that, it seems they're always "insiders", no?

tj

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Re: How do United States Congress members invest?
« Reply #26 on: November 16, 2014, 09:31:42 PM »
Dianne Feinstein has a 30 year mortgage between 1 and 5 million, crazy. Also has 50k/year pension from the city of San Francisco.  Had Vangaurd Lifestrategy funds, but sold them last year.

Any questions on why the clowns in D.C. can't submit a balanced budget and the taxpayers are saddled with a trillion dollar debt?

Some of the Mustachians and and Bogleheads should consider running for office. I'm serious.

Added note: Feinstein ' s husband is an Investment banker with a net worth in the millions. Why she is carrying a mortgage is beyond me.

Check Out Pelosi. She has like 7 mortgages in the millions.

CommonCents

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Re: How do United States Congress members invest?
« Reply #27 on: November 16, 2014, 10:17:39 PM »
Elizabeth Warren, my senator (and the husband of my Trusts & Estates professor at law school) is quite wealthy.  She has a bare minimum of $3.66 million - but it could be more than $9.725M as apparently you need not report more than "over $1m" if the account is held independently by your spouse or dependent child.  She also earns a lot from royalties (advance of over half a million).  No liabilities. 

MacGyverIt

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Re: How do United States Congress members invest?
« Reply #28 on: November 16, 2014, 10:27:32 PM »
This is why I have a hard time voting.   I don't believe in the "lesser of 2 evils" philosophy

I never miss voting for all the civic reasons but I always vote third party. (Thankfully live in an area with that option.)

Tired of the 2 party Coke/Pepsi sandbox they've attempted to put us in; voting outside the mainstream is my little act of civil rebellion :-)

libertarian4321

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Re: How do United States Congress members invest?
« Reply #29 on: November 17, 2014, 05:54:07 AM »

I pulled up some of the Texas representatives and they were pretty cut and dry. 

Democrat Joaquin Castro's (San Antonio) form was filled in by hand and extremely uncomplicated for a man who just turned 40.  No funds listed at all.  He even had to submit a letter confirming that the <$5k in rental income he got in 2012 was not received in 2013.  They're dotting their i's and crossing their t's over here.

Castro is my Congressman.

A 40-year old Harvard educated trial lawyer/Congressman who has made big money for years, with essentially no assets, a large (for Texas) mortgage, and still a lot of college debt. 

A significant NEGATIVE NET WORTH.

By the time I was his age, I was already a millionaire, on a salary only a fraction of what he earns.

Hell, I know Pizza Delivery guys with a better balance sheet than this guy.

He's pretty typical of a Congressman, actually.

And we wonder why we have a huge national debt.  These clowns can't even manage their personal finances, so it's not likely they'll do better with national finances.

innkeeper77

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Re: How do United States Congress members invest?
« Reply #30 on: November 17, 2014, 07:19:48 AM »
Added note: Feinstein ' s husband is an Investment banker with a net worth in the millions. Why she is carrying a mortgage is beyond me.

That is probably why doe does have one. Like a number of posters on these threads note, a low interest mortgage- if you were going to buy the house anyway- can be a great wealth building tool. What if she snagged that massive mortgage at under four percent interest, and was sure that her husband could do better investing the money? Even if the market only nets 1% better, on $1 million or more that is a LOT of net profit.

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Re: How do United States Congress members invest?
« Reply #31 on: November 17, 2014, 07:35:53 AM »
Added note: Feinstein ' s husband is an Investment banker with a net worth in the millions. Why she is carrying a mortgage is beyond me.

That is probably why doe does have one. Like a number of posters on these threads note, a low interest mortgage- if you were going to buy the house anyway- can be a great wealth building tool. What if she snagged that massive mortgage at under four percent interest, and was sure that her husband could do better investing the money? Even if the market only nets 1% better, on $1 million or more that is a LOT of net profit.

She's 81 freaking years old. A condo in a retirement community would suit her needs.



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Re: How do United States Congress members invest?
« Reply #32 on: November 17, 2014, 08:01:45 AM »
That is probably why doe does have one. Like a number of posters on these threads note, a low interest mortgage- if you were going to buy the house anyway- can be a great wealth building tool. What if she snagged that massive mortgage at under four percent interest, and was sure that her husband could do better investing the money? Even if the market only nets 1% better, on $1 million or more that is a LOT of net profit.

This is exactly it. While it looks like they have a lot of wealth, usually little of it is liquid, and mortgage rates are good now and the interest is deductible. They may make ~$170,000 a year, but usually that involves paying a mortgage in their home district and rent in D.C. (The mustachians in Congress sleep in their offices). Other than that, they do indeed pay social security, they get the same health insurance as every other federal employee, and they also get access to the TSP, I believe.

teen persuasion

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Re: How do United States Congress members invest?
« Reply #33 on: November 17, 2014, 08:06:14 AM »
This is why I have a hard time voting.   I don't believe in the "lesser of 2 evils" philosophy

I never miss voting for all the civic reasons but I always vote third party. (Thankfully live in an area with that option.)

Tired of the 2 party Coke/Pepsi sandbox they've attempted to put us in; voting outside the mainstream is my little act of civil rebellion :-)

Lol, I do the same!

waltworks

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Re: How do United States Congress members invest?
« Reply #34 on: November 17, 2014, 09:23:52 AM »
Not to derail, but if you really want to vote strategically, registering for one of the major parties and then voting in the primary is far more effective than voting for third party candidates in the general election if you want your vote to impact policy. There are often candidates from all over the spectrum in a primary and chances are you won't have to vote for the lesser of two evils (or you can be really sneaky and vote for the really crazy candidate whose ideas you oppose so that they'll lose in the general election).

Then again, most people skip off-year elections which is crazy since local/state offices aren't elected on the same schedule as the president, and those local officials have a much bigger impact on your day to day life. But c'est la vie. If your intent in voting for a third party candidate is to lodge a symbolic protest, that's fine. If vote because you have policy preferences you'd like to see implemented it's pretty stupid, though.

-W

This is why I have a hard time voting.   I don't believe in the "lesser of 2 evils" philosophy

I never miss voting for all the civic reasons but I always vote third party. (Thankfully live in an area with that option.)

Tired of the 2 party Coke/Pepsi sandbox they've attempted to put us in; voting outside the mainstream is my little act of civil rebellion :-)

Lol, I do the same!

LordSquidworth

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Re: How do United States Congress members invest?
« Reply #35 on: November 17, 2014, 09:43:46 AM »
Added note: Feinstein ' s husband is an Investment banker with a net worth in the millions. Why she is carrying a mortgage is beyond me.

That is probably why doe does have one. Like a number of posters on these threads note, a low interest mortgage- if you were going to buy the house anyway- can be a great wealth building tool. What if she snagged that massive mortgage at under four percent interest, and was sure that her husband could do better investing the money? Even if the market only nets 1% better, on $1 million or more that is a LOT of net profit.

I have a 3% mortgage and will not pay a penny extra towards it.

After interest deductions that rate is effectively 2.1%.

Inflation averages 3%.

Looking at the past 12 months, my gains are another 2.92% on top of the S&P 500.

Easy decision.

Millionaire senator for my state is carrying mortgages, Angus King. I'd imagine for the same reason.

skyrefuge

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Re: How do United States Congress members invest?
« Reply #36 on: November 17, 2014, 10:48:42 AM »
Nice work people, this is more what I was hoping for. Lots of good stuff here!

He even had to submit a letter confirming that the <$5k in rental income he got in 2012 was not received in 2013.  They're dotting their i's and crossing their t's over here.

In contrast, Illinois congressman Bobby Rush shows a single item for assets, unspecifically labeled "401K" (looks like it was written on the form in crayon), valued $250k-$500k, and nothing for liabilities. So apparently there aren't a lot of rules about how detailed you need to be!

Added note: Feinstein ' s husband is an Investment banker with a net worth in the millions. Why she is carrying a mortgage is beyond me.

Whenever I see an unexpected financial maneuver, there are usually two possible and competing explanations: the person is ignorant and doesn't know what the hell they're doing, or they're a genius and are executing some financial jiujitsu. I generally find it safe to bet on "ignorance" being the true answer, but not in this case. This is a pretty clear-cut example of jiujitsu. If Feinstein wanted to pay off her mortgage tomorrow, she would have not problem doing so. Hell, one small part of their asset base is a $5M-$25M investment in a hotel that paid them $1.8M in income last year! At a minimum, that's a 7.2% return (and 36% at maximum), and the mortgage rate is 3.87%, so that's a no-brainer.

Her Vanguard stuff is actually more suspicious. Good for her for being one of the few I've seen using Vanguard (or any low-cost funds), but on 6/24/2013, she sold at least $1M of Vanguard Life Strategy Conservative Growth, and at least $1M of Vanguard LifeStrategy Income, and moved that money to Vanguard Prime Money Market. I can't come up with a good reason to make that move (especially in light of her significant assets); the most nefarious interpretation is that she was expecting bond markets to crash? But given the relatively low number of transactions she makes, I'm sure the real answer is more prosaic.

Speaking of Vanguard, here is President Obama's disclosure. It's one of the more straightforward and efficient ones I've seen. Between him and his wife, they have $300k-$750k in Vanguard's 500 Index Fund in retirement accounts, a similar amount in Treasury Bills in a SEP IRA, but then a huge amount ($1M-$5M) in Treasury Notes? And, also like many of these politicians, they seems to have a higher-than-optimal amount in cash, something near $200k. I guess overall it's a Buffett-like "investing in America" picture.
« Last Edit: November 17, 2014, 10:51:23 AM by skyrefuge »

LordSquidworth

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Re: How do United States Congress members invest?
« Reply #37 on: November 17, 2014, 11:54:49 AM »
Speaking of Vanguard, here is President Obama's disclosure. It's one of the more straightforward and efficient ones I've seen. Between him and his wife, they have $300k-$750k in Vanguard's 500 Index Fund in retirement accounts, a similar amount in Treasury Bills in a SEP IRA, but then a huge amount ($1M-$5M) in Treasury Notes? And, also like many of these politicians, they seems to have a higher-than-optimal amount in cash, something near $200k. I guess overall it's a Buffett-like "investing in America" picture.

It's been like that since 2009 I think, the large amount in Treasury Bills.

gimp

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Re: How do United States Congress members invest?
« Reply #38 on: November 17, 2014, 02:44:50 PM »
Good symbolic move. Sure, the return rate sucks, but it's great to say "I believe in America, which is why my investments are American T-bills."

Most of these folks have no idea how to invest. Some are quite canny. It's pretty interesting to see.

I'd be quite interested to 1) quantify on a rough scale investment acumen and 2) plot that versus terms served. I'd assume that on average, less knowledge means less chance for re-election, but that's biased.

sol

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Re: How do United States Congress members invest?
« Reply #39 on: November 17, 2014, 03:08:00 PM »
I always assumed that politicians who carried enormous cash balances were hedging against the need for quick access to suitcases full of small bills to pay for unexpected expenses like hit men, bribing diplomats, and hush-money for the husband of your mistress.

The_Dude

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Re: How do United States Congress members invest?
« Reply #40 on: November 17, 2014, 06:10:35 PM »
Cool thread.  Thanks to the original poster and others who have shared the results of their research on politicians investments.  I found some of this fascinating!