I've been glued to the news this entire election season, but one heated exchange at the second presidential debate between President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney piqued my curiosity. Here it is from the Washington Post's full transcript, edited to concisely show a portion of their conversation about investing:
Obama: Romney is investing "in companies that are building surveillance equipment for China to spy on its own folks."
Romney: "Mr. President, have you looked at your pension? Have you looked at your pension?"
Obama: "You know, I -- I don't look at my pension. It's not as big as yours so it doesn't take as long. ... I don't check it that often."
Romney: "Let me give you some advice. Look at your pension. You also have investments in Chinese companies. You also have investments outside the United States. You also have investments through a Caymans trust."
This tiff certainly received a lot of attention and got a lot of people interested in finding out if some of those statements about the candidates' investments were true. It turns out that Romney and Obama were both partially correct. I'll tell you more about that in a moment.
For answers, we examined both candidates' (and their running mates') recent public financial disclosure documents that we found at OpenSecrets.org, which is run by the Center for Responsive Politics. The latest available disclosures were filed in 2011 and detailed their finances for the year 2010.
It's not possible to come up with a precise measure of each person's wealth or asset holdings from these documents. That's because exact dollar-amount disclosures aren't required. For example, a $300,000 investment property would be reported only as fitting in a range of $250,000 to $500,000.
Below are the five favorite investments -- and other portfolio holdings -- for Romney and his running mate, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, as well as for Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. They are presented in order of highest to lowest estimated portfolio value.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney