It's good to be a plutocrat:
Mitt Romney’s opposition to the auto bailout has haunted him on the campaign trail, especially in Rust Belt states like Ohio. There, in September, the Obama campaign launched television ads blasting Romney’s November 2008 New York Times op-ed, “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.” But Romney has done a good job of concealing, until now, the fact that he and his wife, Ann, personally gained at least $15.3 million from the bailout—and a few of Romney’s most important Wall Street donors made more than $4 billion. Their gains, and the Romneys’, were astronomical—more than 3,000 percent on their investment.
It all starts with Delphi Automotive, a former General Motors subsidiary whose auto parts remain essential to GM’s production lines. No bailout of GM—or Chrysler, for that matter—could have been successful without saving Delphi. So, in addition to making massive loans to automakers in 2009, the federal government sent, directly or indirectly, more than $12.9 billion to Delphi—and to the hedge funds that had gained control over it.
Oh. Hedge funds. Bain?
One of the hedge funds profiting from that bailout— $1.28 billion so far—is Elliott Management, directed by Paul Singer.
Okay. Elliott Management. The Romneys were investors, then?
That leaves one final question: Exactly how much did the Romneys make off the auto bailout? Queries to the campaign and the Romneys’ trustee have gone unanswered. And Romney has yet to disclose the crucial year of his tax returns, 2009. But whatever the tally, it was one sweet deal. The Romneys were invested with Elliott Management by the end of 2010, before Delphi was publicly traded. So, in effect, they got Delphi stock at Singer’s initial dirt-cheap price. When Delphi’s owners took the company public in November 2011, the Romneys were in—and they hit the jackpot.
Shouldn't the math be simple? Isn't it in the Romneys' tax filings?
In their 2011 and 2012 Federal Financial Disclosure filing, Ann Romney’s trust lists “more than $1 million” invested with Elliott. This is the description for all of her big investments—the minimal disclosure required by law.
Well, just give us a number.
It is reasonable to assume that Singer treated the Romneys the same as his other investors, with a third of their portfolio invested in Delphi by the time of the 2011 initial public offering. This means that with an investment of at least $1 million, their smallest possible gain when Delphi went public would have been $10.2 million, plus another $10.2 million for each million handed to Singer—all gains made possible by the auto bailout.
But that’s just the beginning. Since the November 2011 IPO, Delphi’s stock has roared upward, boosting the Romneys’ Delphi windfall from $10.2 million to $15.3 million for each million they invested with Singer.
But what if the Romneys invested a bit more with Singer: let’s say a mere 3 percent of their reported net worth, or $7.5 million? (After all, ABC News reported—and Romney didn’t deny—that he invested “a huge chunk of his vast wealth” with Singer.) Then their take from the auto bailout so far would reach a stunning $115 million.
Well fine. Rich dude invests money with other rich dudes and they all get richer. Anything else?
Nevertheless, even if the Romneys were blind to their initial investment in Elliott, they would have known by the beginning of 2010 that they had a massive position in Delphi and would make a fortune from the bailout and TARP funds. Delphi is not a minor investment for Singer; it is his main holding. To invest in Elliott is essentially a “Delphi play”: that is, investing with Singer means buying a piece of the auto bailout.
Mitt Romney may indeed have wanted to let Detroit die. But if the auto industry was going to be bailed out after all, the Romneys apparently couldn’t resist getting in on a piece of the action.
Oh, right. He was against the auto company bailout before he profited from it.
Lots of other good stuff at the link about off-shoring Delphi jobs to China, some union busting, some pension fund raiding, the usual. Also some fascinating stuff about the deal making involved.
A Settlers of Catan style game set in the world of Private Equity would be a hoot.