Obama’s Financial Disclosures Show Cautious Strategy

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama held total assets between $1.9 million and $6.9 million last year, with as much as $515,000 of it in JPMorgan Chase & Co checking accounts.

The disclosure shows their wealth invested in a financially and politically cautious portfolio, concentrated in U.S. Treasury debt, with other assets in bank deposits and index funds.

The Obamas hold between $1 million and $5 million in Treasury notes and between $10,000 and $251,000 in Treasury bills. Treasury notes have maturities of between one and 10 years; Treasury bills have maturities of one year or less.

The Obamas’ assets, and those of Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, were disclosed in ethics forms released today that cover the period ending Dec. 31. The disclosures, required of all senior executive branch officials and members of Congress, list assets and income in value ranges rather than specific amounts, making year-to-year comparisons difficult.

Last year, the Obamas disclosed assets valued between $2.6 million and $8.3 million. The form indicated no sale or purchase of assets during the past year.

Mortgage Debt

Despite the president’s frequent public comments on the benefits of declining mortgage rates for homeowners, the Obamas have not taken advantage of lower rates. The Obamas still hold a 30-year mortgage on their Chicago home that they obtained in 2005, with a balance between $500,000 and $1 million and an interest rate of 5.625 percent. Interest rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 3.67 percent during 2012, according to Bankrate.com.

The Obamas already have set aside money for college costs for their two daughters, Malia, 14 and Sasha, 11. They reported having between $200,000 and $400,000 in tax-advantaged 529 college savings accounts.

In addition to the two JP Morgan checking accounts, a joint asset management account with between $250,000 and $500,000, and a checking account in the first lady’s name with between $1,000 and $15,000, they also have a joint checking account with Northern Trust Co., also with no more than $15,000.

The couple listed three retirement accounts invested in the Vanguard 500 Index Fund in addition to Obama’s pension from the Illinois state legislature. Their mortgage is the only debt they listed.

The Bidens reported assets of between $239,000 and $867,000, not including the value of their residence.

The Bidens reported debts between $740,000 and $1.6 million, including a mortgage and home equity loans totaling between $700,000 and $1.5 million. Other debts include a loan taken against the cash value of life insurance policies with a balance between $15,000 and $50,000 and a line of credit for an unnamed son that Biden co-signed, also listed at between $15,000 and $50,000.

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