Archive for April, 2012

The World’s Richest Politicians Are Worth Billions, Mitt Romney Is Not

The Pennsylvania Republican primary looms. Rick Santorum’s lead in his home state shrinks. Mitt Romney is gaining.  Delegate counters increasingly view Romney’s path to his party’s nomination as inevitable.

President Barack Obama has avoided, until last week, mentioning his likely general election opponent by name. In his speech to the Associated Press, Obama took on Romney’s support of Representative Paul Ryan’s budget proposal, riffing on the fact that Romney called the plan “marvelous.”

It was the first of what will be many attacks deployed by the Obama campaign to paint Romney as a too-rich and out-of-touch politician. Romney hasn’t helped himself in this regard, his gaffes on the topic are numerous. Off the cuff, he made mention of his family’s collection of American cars, and on two occasions he has deemed it pertinent to mention that his circle of friends includes both NASCAR and NFL team owners. But the truth of the matter is that Romney is not one of America’s richest politicians. He’s not even close. We count 16 current billionaires throughout the world who have ran for, and in some cases attained, public office. By the most generous estimates, Mitt Romney is worth only a quarter of a billion dollars. 

In March, Forbes’ Steven Bertoni talked with casino mogul Sheldon Adelson (net worth: $24.9 billion) about the possibility of giving $100 million to a Republican presidential candidate in the general election. Adelson and his wife have already given at least $21 million to Newt Gingrich in his bid for the Republican nomination.

But pay-to-play politics hasn’t won the day just yet. By Adelson’s own admission, in a video interview with the Jewish Journal, Gingrich is “at the end of his line.” In that same interview, Adelson notes that Romney has not immediately adopted as policy planks anything the billionaire has suggested.

Read the full article here.


JPMorgan Trader Iksil Fuels Prop-Trading Debate With Bets

JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) trader Bruno Iksil’s outsized bets in credit derivatives are drawing attention to a little-known division that invests the company’s reserves and fueling a debate over whether banks are taking excessive risks with federally insured and subsidized money.

Iksil’s influence in the market has spurred some counterparts to dub him Voldemort, after the Harry Potter villain. He works in London in the bank’s chief investment office, which has assembled traders from across Wall Street to its staff of 400 who help oversee $350 billion in investments. While the firm describes the unit’s main task as hedging risks and investing excess cash, four hedge-fund managers and dealers say the trades are big enough to move indexes and resemble proprietary bets, or wagers made with the bank’s own money.

Read the full article here.

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