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Meet the Ryans - scattered fund investments like the rest of us

Comments

  • Even though the Ryan family does have direct exposure to foreign stocks and bonds, indirectly holdings they own have some % of them. For example,

    Fidelity Contra fund - 10% based on M* as of June 2012

    Pimco Total Total - 5.5% foreign corporate bonds and 7.9% foreign government bonds

    Wells Fargo Advantage Funds EdVest 529 College Savings Plan - "moderate portfolio" is comprised of 13% international exposure.

    These days everything is connected through globalization, whether we like it or not.
  • Does it concern/trouble anyone that nearly half of the members of congress are millionnaires? I'm just trying to figure out how you can be representative of your constituants when you move in radically different circles.

    http://www.opensecrets.org/pfds/overview.php?type=W&year=2010#avg
  • Reply to @Mark: It is hard to imagine these millionaires can relate to majority of their constituents - the working class. At the same time, it takes money to run for office successfully. I am surprise Donald Trump did not run this time around.
  • Hi Guys,

    The assertion that wealth is a public office disqualifier is risible. It totally discounts fundamental Greek political philosophy; it disregards our own history.

    Plato taught that politics was an activity best conducted by an elite cadre of highly educated citizens.

    Our Founding Fathers were highly educated, enlightened, and very wealthy individuals. George Washington might well have been the wealthiest man in the colonies at the time of our revolution. Should he have been disqualified from serving as our First President? Of course not. It’s okay to have accumulated wealth as long as it is accompanied by a few more requisite personal traits and attributes.

    What are these other complementary traits? Everyone has his own opinion on this matter. An excellent point of departure in generating a functional criteria set is likely given by considering Mahatma Gandhi’s immortal “Seven Deadly Sins”. Here they are:

    (1) Wealth without work
    (2) Pleasure without conscience
    (3) Science without humanity
    (4) Knowledge without character
    (5) Politics without principle
    (6) Commerce without morality
    (7) Worship without sacrifice.

    All of us should strive to realize these noble virtues, especially politicians who are granted leadership roles. Each of us can independently develop a politician criteria set from Gandhi’s noteworthy principles. Many of our current political leaders would fail a test derived from the Seven Deadly Sins.

    Note that even Gandhi recognized that wealth was okay if it was accumulated from work. That’s an important and separating distinction.

    The population should not be envious of Congress’s average wealth. They are highly motivated, highly educated, and hugely successful citizens. As a starting point we should be generous in assuming that their wealth was fairly acquired and honestly earned.

    A much more informative statistic would be their wealth accumulation growth rate while serving in Washington DC. As economists exhaustively tell us, it’s at the margins that all the action happens. So, when judging if a congressman individually benefited from insider information, a key simple metric might well be his incremental wealth increase while in office divided by his year’s of service.

    If that average “returns” statistic is higher than about 25 % annually, his investment acumen is superior to the likes of a Warren Buffett. That’s not very probable, and I would be suspicious of his actions and his motivations. His incentives are likely not aligned with those he purportedly serves.

    Well, that’s my opinion on the matter. It’s worth about what you guys paid for it.

    Best Regards.
  • edited August 2012
    Reply to @MJG: Hi MJG - You certainly have a knack for words. I looked up "risible" which I was previously unacquainted with:

    ris·i·ble  (rz-bl) adj..
    1. Relating to laughter or used in eliciting laughter.
    2. Eliciting laughter; ludicrous.
    3. Capable of laughing or inclined to laugh.
    [Late Latin rsibilis, from Latin rsus, past participle of rdre, to laugh.]
    risi·bly adv.

    Please know: (1) - I made no assertion that wealth should be a disqualifier for public office. (In fact, I tend to agree with my Pa who always said the rich made better politicians since they had less reason to steal:-) ... (2) I do not find the article to make any such assertion. A bit light-hearted, yes - but not critical of Mr. Ryan's wealth. Rather, it uses the candidate's disclosure statement to delve into some pretty meaty investment topics: how many funds is too many?; the importance of avoiding duplication; the need to monitor one's funds' performance ... So, I suspect your argument may be directed more at one of the board members who commented on the article. However, I neither take umbrage at their comments nor import to them the same degree of criticism of Mr. Ryan you appear to. Thanks for the thoughts. Regards, hank

    Source of definition: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/risible
  • MJG
    edited August 2012
    Hi Hank,

    I take no umbrage with your posting. I think the financial status of candidate political leadership is one of many important inputs into assessing that candidate’s worthiness.

    I did not interpret your reference as politically motivated; I assessed it as informational input and thank you for it. I was in no way surprised by the affluence of almost all candidates. It seems to go with the territory.

    By the way, I tend to agree with your Dad; he had considerable wisdom. I do not consider any candidate’s wealth as a handicap unless it was gotten by irregular means. All wealth is not equal.

    If you liked “risible” you might also like “jejune”. I’m currently viewing “The Great Ideas of Philosophy” lecture series by Oxford University Professor Daniel Robinson. He uses “jejune” occasionally. The English have a way with words that I like to emulate. Jejune means something like a juvenile, an unsophisticated argument. I’ll probably try to integrate that word into my writings in the near future.

    I have no issues with your post. I enjoyed it and evaluated it in much the same way as you did. Thank you.

    Best Wishes.
  • Since I have little investment acumen, I must limit my comments to non-financial matters. While I sincerely regret that the teen-aged Ryan found his father dead in bed (an event most of us are fortunately spared), he seems to have sprung from a much more prosperous background than most of us. My father rode a pony across the Kansas prairies to high school, from which he was the first of his eleven siblings to graduate, and I was the second of my many cousins to graduate from college.
    I don't feel represented by Mr. Ryan, or even by Mr. Obama, although his background seems much more modest. Mr. Romney certainly had advantages most of us lacked, and I doubt he ever worked stamping metal parts for small machines, as I did one summer,once the work on the farm was completed.
    I don't think Samuel Adams or Tom Paine were rich, although many of the founding fathers were merchants of ascending wealth. They were, however, as was Livingston, willing to to risk much for their desire to be independent of England.
    To invoke Plato, a member of a society utilizing slaves, in which women had few rights, probably accepts, while ignoring, the fact that life for the middle class (if the concept even existed) and the lower classes in antiquity was too busy or stressful to spend much time on concepts of ideal governance.
    I do not feel represented by my "representatives". I'm pretty sure the costs of running for office require money few possess. I don't think the U.S. is unique among current democracies in that the legislature is controlled by those with money to pursue their goals. It may be possible to feed on their leavings enough to protect one's children, and I'll try to protect my grandchildren to some extent, but I'm pessimistic about their chance for success.
    Sorry, but I see no representatives for the middle or lower class.
  • As of today, I trust Romnie and Ryan.
    I am however concerned about the complaints from elected candidates that they have huge debts on election day but average over nine million dollars in net worth when leaving public service!
    GJG
  • Article provides a look at how Ryan is invested. About 30 funds. Some not doing too well. Some individual stocks. Didn't notice any bond or bond funds, but probably has some. Recall he' in Price's New Horizons fund and some of their others. Author gives some interesting stats on how many funds the average investor holds and based on that Ryan is way over average.

    I don't particularily care how much or how little $$ a candidate has. More interested in their views on issues. So, politics wasn't my reason for putting up the link. Thought fund investors might gain some perspective. That's all. It's OK with me if folk want to get into political dialogue. Free speech. But, I'll refrain. And, again, that wasn't the intent of the post.
  • Reply to @hank: And I apologize for taking your post down that road. I wasn't thinking that's where it may go but I guess I should have. Being wealthy doesn't exclude one but I thought the figures were of interest.
  • edited August 2012
    Speaking of "risible", how about a jejune description of Congress as "highly motivated, highly educated, and hugely successful citizens"?

    cf: Todd Aiken- Member, House of Representatives Science, Space, and Technology Committee, denies climate change, evolution, and rape.

    Enough to make one take umbrage, or even exception.
  • edited August 2012
    Reply to @Mark: No apologies necessary. Thread is under "off-topic." Putting post up taught me how politically charged whole country is. Have to wonder what's to be gained by going at it here. Most probably have their minds made up. Than again, if folks want to ..., I'll sit back and enjoy fireworks :-)
  • Reply to @Old_Joe: I love you man! Nothing gets by you. I myself reached for the Rolaids.
  • Reply to @Old_Joe:

    Hi Old Joe,

    You have an ingrained propensity to disregard the forest for the trees, and seem to focus on hairsplitting over a few words in a rather lengthy posting while ignoring the principle thrust of the submittal.

    The purpose of my post was to introduce Gandhi’s “Seven Deadly Sins” as a possible template when constructing a criteria set for assessing an individual’s qualifications for any position. Naturally, the criteria set will change with the position and circumstances at the time of the decision.

    You constantly take issue with my vocabulary choice. That’s picayune to an extreme. In this instance, you don’t seem to enjoy my use of words like “umbrage” or “risible”, and probably not “jejune”. These are all very acceptable words even if seldom used.

    I used “umbrage” in my posting instead of “exception” for a very specific reason. “Umbrage” goes a notch beyond just taking exception. It introduces an emotional element into the conversation that “exception” does not. Umbrage denotes some degree of annoyance or displeasure. For the purposes of my post,” umbrage” better expressed my feelings over the more neutral “exception” term. But it is such a inconsequential matter, why challenge it at all?

    I too, like Hank, just learned the meaning of the words “risible” and “jejune”. These are great words to expand a vocabulary. I hope to use them again when appropriate.

    My statement that “They are highly motivated, highly educated, and hugely successful citizens” was a near throw away comment given the purpose of the submittal. The sentence expressed respect for the office. Besides, it is factually correct and merely an opinion.

    Government statistics clearly demonstrate that the average Federal congressman is more highly educated than the average citizen, and he has income that greatly exceeds the population average. He is hugely successful because he has competed and captured one of only 535 jobs available in the entire US. He surely is highly motivated to risk failure from a hostile electorate that might reject him with a one-half likelihood. I respect his motivation, his education, and his success.

    That does not necessarily mean that I respect or endorse the man, his philosophy, or his policies. There are many more meaningful dimensions to any comprehensive evaluation. That’s why I proposed pausing to consider Gandhi’s “Seven Deadly Sins”. It adds more depth to any criteria set determination.

    Todd Aiken’s comments on rape victims are reprehensible; at the very least, they are definitely wrongheaded and jejune. I immediately rejected them; the Republican party immediately rejected them and withdrew support; if he continues, I project that the electorate will similarly reject his vile comments. Justice will be done (that’s an opinion, not a fact).

    Thank you for this opportunity to emphasize the main flow and objectives of my original commentary once again.

    Best Wishes.
  • Reply to @MJG: MJG, I don't usually chime in on this type of discussion, but your comparison of our successful, educated and ambitious forefathers to todays educated and wealthy politicians is absurd.

    We have been taught that men like Washington, Jefferson, Adams and the other builders of this nation left their homes and their livelihoods for the betterment of their new country. They were the elite and educated of their day and that resume was needed to build this republic - much the same skills needed to build any great business - which many of them did. Do you honestly believe todays "career politicians" can be compared to those men who "served" their country? When their political jobs were done they went back to their personal lives?

    Todays politicians are "granted" leadership because they likely are physically attractive, can sway their constituents with their gift of gab and either have great wealth or are backed by those with money (and of course those money backers want something in return, don't you think?). And when todays politician is granted that leadership, they will do or say anything to hold onto their well paid, ego driven, golden parachute "careers".

    Got to agree with Joe on this one. Congress described as "highly motivated, highly educated, and hugely successful citizens"? Highly motivated, highly educated and hugely successful at holding onto their self fulfilling, ego driven careers is more accurate. Don't think todays leaders have the same goal as Washington and his friends.
  • Reply to @MikeM:

    Hi MikeM,

    Thanks for taking time to compose a reply.

    I fear you extrapolated a comment I made that is appropriate for and limited to our Founding Fathers over two centuries to today’s politicians.

    My original commentary was directed at wealth not being a disqualifier for political office. I used George Washington as a simple illustration of that opinion. I made no assertions that today’s political breed have similar genes. That’s an improper extrapolation of my comment; I never made that contrast or claim.

    I concur almost completely with your comparisons across the generations.

    Our Founding Fathers were exceptional men in unique circumstances. The likelihood of such a singularly outstanding group ever being assembled together again is highly remote. I agree that today’s politicians could not carry water for that elite cohort.

    When Washington’s term expired he could have been King; instead he went home. I particularly do not subscribe to the concept of politician as a lifetime profession. So, we see today’s politician in much the same light.

    However, although I agree that our Founding Fathers are giants when contrasted to almost all politicians (exceptions like Lincoln exist), today’s politicians “are highly motivated, highly educated, and hugely successful citizens”. In no way is this an endorsement of their practices and policies. It is a partial and generic description of some of their characteristics.

    I find many of the attributes of today’s political elite to be troublesome and worrisome.

    Where is the new George Washington when we so desperately need him?

    Best Wishes.
  • edited August 2012
    Hi Guys,
    No women allowed, hmmm?

    The assertion that wealth is a public office disqualifier is risible. It totally discounts fundamental Greek political philosophy; it disregards our own history.

    What "assertion"? By whom?

    Plato taught that politics was an activity best conducted by an elite cadre of highly educated citizens.

    Plato was a philosopher. There are, historically, literally thousands of other philosophers who may or may not agree with Plato. So what?

    Our Founding Fathers were highly educated, enlightened, and very wealthy individuals. George Washington might well have been the wealthiest man in the colonies at the time of our revolution. Should he have been disqualified from serving as our First President? Of course not. It’s okay to have accumulated wealth as long as it is accompanied by a few more requisite personal traits and attributes.

    These were the same "educated, enlightened, and very wealthy individuals" who generally believed that only males of substantial property and wealth should be allowed any say in government, that women should be completely disenfranchised, that other human beings had no value other than as slaves (leaving a legacy of civil war and alienation which persists to some degree even to this day), and that property clearly belonging to native Americans was free for the taking.

    What are these other complementary traits? Everyone has his own opinion on this matter. An excellent point of departure in generating a functional criteria set is likely given by considering Mahatma Gandhi’s immortal “Seven Deadly Sins”. Here they are:

    (1) Wealth without work
    (2) Pleasure without conscience
    (3) Science without humanity
    (4) Knowledge without character
    (5) Politics without principle
    (6) Commerce without morality
    (7) Worship without sacrifice.

    By all means let us "generate a functional criteria set". No MJG screed would be complete without at least one or two of those.

    All of us should strive to realize these noble virtues, especially politicians who are granted leadership roles. Each of us can independently develop a politician criteria set from Gandhi’s noteworthy principles. Many of our current political leaders would fail a test derived from the Seven Deadly Sins.

    Many of our current leaders would fail the same high-school diploma test which they have mandated for everyone else, your assertions notwithstanding.

    Note that even Gandhi recognized that wealth was okay if it was accumulated from work. That’s an important and separating distinction.

    In the case of our current congress very few of those individuals have ever engaged in "work" as it is commonly understood by the average American.

    The population should not be envious of Congress’s average wealth. They are highly motivated, highly educated, and hugely successful citizens. As a starting point we should be generous in assuming that their wealth was fairly acquired and honestly earned.

    I believe that this assertion has already been adequately addressed. "Risible" fits nicely here, if not above, so in an exercise of grandiosity we get to use at least one of your new cool words.

    A much more informative statistic would be their wealth accumulation growth rate while serving in Washington DC. As economists exhaustively tell us, it’s at the margins that all the action happens. So, when judging if a congressman individually benefited from insider information, a key simple metric might well be his incremental wealth increase while in office divided by his year’s of service.

    If that average “returns” statistic is higher than about 25 % annually, his investment acumen is superior to the likes of a Warren Buffett. That’s not very probable, and I would be suspicious of his actions and his motivations. His incentives are likely not aligned with those he purportedly serves.

    On this at least we can agree.

    Well, that’s my opinion on the matter. It’s worth about what you guys paid for it.

    Well, that makes two items of agreement. Something of a record, I suppose.

    Best regards.

    Likewise.
  • Reply to @hank: Damn right you will. I can see the smile from here. Take care.
  • Reply to @Old_Joe:

    Hi Old Joe,

    Thank you for posting extended commentary that clarified your feelings with regard to my submittals on this thread. Your comments skillfully illuminated your positions on the matter and went well beyond the simple wordsmith format and gratuitous political observations that dominated your earlier critique.

    Legitimate alternate points of view are always welcomed by me. I surely do not offer final answers to any of the elements under contention, especially since many of the issues are controversial and reside in unsettled territory. Honest debate is a healthy exercise worthy of pursuit. My goal in many of my submittals is to merely suggest plausible options for MFO membership consideration.

    Very often, your postings, both directly and indirectly, criticize my opinions and suggestions without offering your own ideas on the subject. So thank you for changing that incomplete pattern. To summarize your current submittal, my takeaways are that you:

    1. Take exception to much of the knowledge, logic, personal conduct, and government positions posited by the Greek philosophers from Socrates to Plato to Aristotle and beyond.

    2. Take exception to the exceptionalism of our Founding Fathers, mostly because they reflected the social and economic norms of their period.

    3. Take exception to using Gandhi’s “Seven Deadly Sins” as a template to guide a person when constructing a ranking to evaluate a candidate criteria set, mainly because I proposed it as a workable tool.

    4. Asserted that many of our political leaders would fail a “high-school diploma test” (no data referenced although much data exists to the contrary).

    5. Claimed that Congress does not do real work, I suppose because it is not manual labor and/or you disagree with the final product.

    6. Agreed with me that a good metric to judge a Congressman’s work ethic and integrity is to measure his wealth accumulation rate after he took office.

    7. Concurred with my assessment that a wealth accumulation rate in excess of that registered by Warren Buffett is an actionable alert signal for investigation.

    Again, thank you for crystallizing some of your feelings on these matters. I’m sure some MFO participants would treat your positions with succor; others would likely take umbrage with them. That’s what debate is all about.

    For the record, as a safeguard against some later distortions, permit me to repost one paragraph from your reply:
    “These were the same “educated, enlightened, and very wealthy individuals” who generally believed that only males of substantial property and wealth should be allowed any say in government, that women should be completely disenfranchised, that other human beings had no value other than as slaves (leaving a legacy of civil war and alienation which persists to some degree even to this day), and that property clearly belonging to native Americans was free for the taking.”

    I want to compliment you on your well crafted rebuttal. It is written with precision. I recognize that it succinctly and fairly characterizes your sentiments on this matter. Good for you and well done.

    it is a harsh judgment directed at our Founding Fathers. These are bitter and angry feelings indeed. These words are typically found in fiery political speech. However, I believe your assessment is taken out of historical context in the sense that it totally ignores the more commonly accepted personal conduct, the morals, and the mores of the period. You make the mistake of imposing today’s standards, customs, and practices on the Giants of the late 18th century. The only charge missing from your diatribe is a global warming omission.

    Your analysis doesn’t acknowledge history’s flow for over two centuries. All legendary and real world heroes sport a few warts. Some guys (gender neutral usage) would argue that this grand assembly of patriots produced the most significant document since the Bible. I do too.

    But like everyone else, smart people are not free from making serious misjudgments and mistakes. Mankind has forever been guilty of flawed decisions and been subject to bad law. We burned witches (mostly women, but roughly 20 % men) to save them from themselves. At one time, one of the acid tests in the witch determination trials was the ability of the accused to produce tears (which is a more physically challenging task for older women). The term “alligator tears” derives from that false test.

    Old beliefs and adages die hard. We still have a few investors who trade based on the moon cycle. Smart folks are as prone to error and herd reactions as anyone else. Issues like this are often addressed by the behavioral research cohort. In 1999 I was impressed by the Gary Belsky and Thomas Gilovich book titled “Why Smart People Make Big Money Mistakes and How to Correct Them”. A more recent addition to this voluminous literature is the 2009 Joseph Hallinan book titled ”Why We Make Mistakes”. Smart people are definitely not immune to the disease.

    I respect your opinions and your documentation of them. You now own them.

    I am grateful that you paid the price of time to document your feelings on this matter; Margaret Fuller could not have penned it better.

    Best Wishes.
  • edited August 2012
    My favorite disclosure (in that it gives some sort of insight) remains Dallas Fed Governor Fisher, who indicated over a million dollars in GLD and between $50-250K in Platinum and Uranium, as well as 7,000 acres of land and some odds/ends stocks.

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/goldbug-fed

    Can't really tell much of Ryan's views from his holdings.
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