Next month, Americans (those that vote, in any event) will head to the polls to choose a new chief executive. The major candidates and their running mates are pledging to steward the nation through continued prosperity and fiscal health. To determine which candidate is best suited to run the nation's fiscal engine,
examined how the candidates handle their own financial houses and huddled with professional financial planners. The planners had some advice for the candidates on how to improve their portfolios. So this week, we're running the advisers' presidential portfolio makeovers of the major candidates, as well as the Republican and Democratic vice presidential contenders. We examined Democrat Al Gore's portfolio Monday, Republican candidate George W. Bush's Tuesday, Green Party hopeful Ralph Nader's Wednesday and Reform Party headliner Patrick J. Buchanan Thursday. Today, we check out Al Gore's right-hand man, Democratic Vice Presidential Candidate Joe Lieberman.
Estimated Joint Net Worth (including Hadassah Lieberman's holdings):$760,000
Current Allocation: 42% equities; 23% fixed income; and 35% cash
Recommendation: Increase equities exposure.
Adviser: Mark Harbour, a certified financial planner and CPA in the Los Angeles office of Ernst & Young.
Top Stock Holdings: IBM , Bassett Furniture , Commercial Metals .
finances are about what you'd expect from an established senator. He's mildly, but not extremely affluent; he's savvy, but not setting the world on fire. Should it surprise anybody that this agreeable human ringer for
Droopy Dawg isn't hiding any skeletons in his closet?
Luckily, wife Hadassah offers a few points of interest. Exhibit A: last April, she sold stock (under $15,000 worth) in
Ladbrokes, the world's largest commercial off-track betting organization. (In case you were wondering, Ladbrokes wants you to know that it's "not in business to capitalize on compulsive behavior or encourage underage gambling." In fact, it's doing its very best to encourage
How many casual investors own stock in betting outfits? Perhaps Hadassah Lieberman is more adventurous than her counterpart, "forceful advocate"
Another surprising investment is Hadassah's purchase in April 1999 of a small holding (under $15,000) in
Fox Entertainment Group
. In September 1999, Sen. Lieberman presented the
Fox Television Network
Silver Sewer Award, which "aims to identify the nation's worst cultural polluters and to put a specific name to a cultural disgrace." Fox was singled out for its "tireless, tasteless, and ongoing efforts to drag down network programming standards and for its cutting-edge contribution to the coarsening of our culture."
Around the same time, Sen. Lieberman said in a
statement: "We have to ask ... the companies making money from the public airwaves, how they are serving the public interest by flooding them with conscienceless killing and demeaning sleaze."
The Fox network's
fall line-up of programs includes
("Capturing thrilling chases, shoot-outs and arrests wherever they can be found, Police Videos, hosted by retired sheriff John Bunnell, enters its fourth season with the same arresting style of the highly-rated
World's Scariest Police Chases
, from which the series has grown.") and
("Four unmarried but seriously committed couples at a crossroads in their relationship, and thirty singles that are looking for love, travel to an exotic location to test the waters of temptation.")
In short: Hadassah and Joe part ways when it comes to stock picking.
As for their overall portfolio, it's made up of $356,000 in taxable direct or joint holdings and just under $370,000 in their tax-deferred retirement accounts. That's not counting pension money that Lieberman could expect to receive after serving 12 years in the Senate, with an earlier stint as a state attorney general.
Between $100,001 and $250,000 of the money in the portfolio is in a blind trust, which last year generated income of about $10,000. Since returns were relatively low, it's likely that the trust is largely composed of fixed-income and cash, with only modest amounts of equities, says Mark Harbour, a certified financial planner and CPA in the Los Angeles office of
Ernst & Young
Harbour estimates Lieberman's portfolio to be made up of 42% equities; 23% fixed-income; and 35% cash. "There is an extraordinarily large amount of cash holding," observes Harbour. He recommends boosting the equity and fixed-income allocations to 44% and 41%, respectively.
"You could make stronger allocations to international and domestic equities at the expense of cash and fixed-income without increasing in an uncomfortable way the volatility of the portfolio," he explains. "My suspicion is that Sen. Lieberman has a pension accruing someplace. And if you looked at the net present value of that future income stream, and construe that to be a bond and add it to his net worth, he'd be substantially overweighted in fixed-income."
Within Lieberman's equity holdings, Harbour would reduce large-cap growth holdings by a third, roughly doubling the allocation to large-cap value stocks. Mid-caps would stay about the same, but he recommends halving the allocation to small-caps and bulking up international and emerging-markets investments.
Harbour estimates the total return on Liberman's portfolio to be around 9.5% before taxes; rejiggering the portfolio could push that up by about 0.5%, while at the same time lowering risk. "I would say he has a very nice balance of specific investments with an eye to modern portfolio
theory strategy," says Harbour. "He's a tad conservative. He could probably generate a bit better return."
Harbour's conclusion: "On a scale of one to 10, with clients that are lousy planners being a one and those that do a perfect job being a 10, I'd classify him as a six or a seven."