09/20/2012 04:24 pm ET Updated Sep 21, 2012

Mitt Romney Could Have Been A Billionaire

Compared to other private equity titans, Mitt Romney is arguably poor.

Romney, the Republican presidential nominee who helped pioneer the private equity industry as co-founder of Bain Capital, is worth an estimated $250 million, according to Bloomberg News -- but other private equity executives are billionaires. According to Bloomberg, Romney missed out on the big rent-extraction party when he started doing public service, and he would be a billionaire today if he had stayed at Bain Capital.

The 2000s -- the decade when Romney ran the 2002 Winter Olympics, served as governor of Massachusetts and first ran for president -- were private equity's "most lucrative era," according to Bloomberg, as private equity firms went public, made bigger deals and achieved higher returns.

This complicates claims made by President Barack Obama's campaign that Romney is motivated mostly by money. But Romney also may have not been aware of the massive opportunity cost of going into public service.

The numbers are clear. Steve Schwarzman, chairman and CEO of the Blackstone Group, is worth an estimated $5.2 billion, according to Forbes. Private equity executives Henry Kravis, Leon Black, David Bonderman, Tom Gores and Bruce Karsh also are billionaires.

Romney still is very wealthy compared to the average American. In fact, he is 4,386 times wealthier than the median U.S. household. But Schwarzman is 21 times richer than Romney.

Romney's wealth has been the subject of much scrutiny throughout his campaign for president, and he has seemed out of touch with ordinary Americans. He recently said that families that make up to $250,000 per year are middle class -- even though the median household income is roughly $50,000.



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