Malcolm Stewart was born and raised in Vermont. He retired in 2014 after 35 years in the international finance business. He and his family currently reside in the UK and Vermont.
If any of the information in this website is wrong or misleading, Malcolm Stewart is solely responsible and accountable.
The Herald of Randolph
Randolph resident Malcolm Stewart has come up with a way to use his unique skills by helping people better understand the Vermont government.
Stewart, a 1972 graduate of Braintree Randolph Union High School, found a career in international finance for Citigroup. The knowledge set gleaned there, he said, made deciphering the intricacies of government spending much more accessible and it’s a new level of access that he hopes to provide for readers of his soon-to-be-launched website, theinformedvermonter.com.
The site is scheduled to go live on August 27 and will provide a serialized look into the nooks and crannies of state government.
As, the website puts it, the Informed Vermonter “seeks to help fellow Vermonters become better informed so they can be more discerning voters.”
Vermont pays for an annual audit, which gives a precise accounting of what money comes in to state coffers and what money goes out to satisfy expenses.
This is a publicly available document and, Stewart said, a great way to get to know the government. Focusing on the audit, shows exactly what was actually spent, rather than what was planned for in a budget.
“It’s…obviously historical and not forward looking and I did that by choice. It’s based on the audit cycle of Vermont, which is basically two budget cycles behind. Basing this on audits gives it a level of integrity that I quite like—it’s not a moving target anymore.”
Stewart has already written the complete year’s guide, focusing on the state audit for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2016. The analysis will be released in sections, one published every three days, each one summarizing a particular subject area.
A draft version that Stewart released to The Herald in anticipation of its publication later in the month, divides the content into 40 distinct posts ranging in subject matter from the history of the state’s constitution, which forms a legal basis from which the government operates, to in-depth discussion of the business climate in Vermont.
The year’s audit is typically completed by the end of December and Stewart plans to update the site with analysis each year, and as financially relevant policy is made at the state and federal levels.
“If, for example, the federal government were ever to pass legislation that hammered some of these important federal grant programs, I would obviously look to comment on that,” he said.
“At a minimum, I will refresh this for the 2017 audit and then the 2018 audit, which will allow me to track what’s going on from a fiscal perspective.”
Stewart grew up in Randolph and still has a home on Hebard Hill Road, where he lives part of the year.
He graduated from BRUHS in 1972 and studied history and economics at the University of Oregon before going to Columbia University for a graduate degree in international affairs with an emphasis on finance.
Having acquired a first-rate education and a heaping helping of student loan debt, Stewart found a job on Wall Street. In 1979 he began working for Citigroup. Stewart moved to the company’s London office in 1999.
Concentrating on the “high-octane” world of debt and leveraged finance, he worked specifically raising capital for “non-investment grade” organizations—the high risk, high reward end of the financial spectrum.
In 2005, he left Citigroup to work for Merrill Lynch and at the height of the financial crisis in 2009, Stewart left to become a principal partner at Onda Partners, a “boutique” financial consultancy based in London.
Since he retired in 2014, Stewart has been using his career’s worth of knowledge to study government finance for the U.S. as a whole, Vermont, and Randolph.
“I enjoy writing and I enjoy doing research,” he noted. “I’ve always had a pretty keen curiosity about government policies.”
The overall effect of Stewart’s ambitious website is to provide the reader with a rather in-depth civics lesson.
“I would argue that it’s more foundational than topical,” he said.
The state’s structures aren’t merely described in theoretical terms, but rather shown concretely as they function.
Though the author clearly holds his own opinions, he restrains himself from littering the content of his site with political views, choosing mostly to let the facts and figures speak for themselves.
“I am looking at this through bond market eyes, that’s for sure.”
Ultimately, Stewart believes that there is an appetite for better understanding the often-mystifying cycles of government funding and aims “to create a resource, where people could kind of click on a topic and at least get started.”
“I think there’s a need…for accessible and useful information.”
by: Tim Calabro