Rex Sinquefield

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Rex Sinquefield
Rex Andrew Sinquefield

September 7, 1944 (1944-09-07) (age 74)
Alma materSaint Louis University
University of Chicago
OccupationPresident of Show-Me Institute
Political partyRepublican

Rex Andrew Sinquefield[1] (born September 7, 1944)[2] is an American financial executive who has been called an "index-fund pioneer".[3] He is active in Missouri politics, his two main interests being rolling back the income tax,[4] and education reform.[5]

Early life and education[edit]

He had 18 cleft palate operations before age 5.[6] His father died when he was 5 years old. Because of the family's poverty, Sinquefield and his brother were placed in a local Catholic orphanage,[7] the Saint Vincent Home for Children in St. Louis, Missouri.[8] The school “was run by strict German nuns – the children slept in big dormitories, had to wash the dishes, clean the rooms and scrub the floors with steel wool.” Sinquefield told the BBC that the school's regimentation taught him self-discipline.[9]

When they were teenagers, Sinquefield and his brother returned home to live with their mother.[10] “Sinquefield learned to hate taxes at his mother’s knee,” reported Governing Magazine in 2015. “In straitened circumstances, his mother resented having to pay the 1 percent tax imposed on earnings of people who work or live in St. Louis.”[11]

He graduated from Bishop DuBourg High School in 1962.[12] He studied to be a priest at the Diocesan Seminary at Cardinal Glennon College in St. Louis. At the time, he owned $200 worth of one stock.[13] During the Vietnam War, he served as a “high-end gopher” in the finance corps at Fort Riley, as he put it. Working with top-secret records, he found it “easy, boring, safe and a terrible waste of manpower.”[14]

He then studied economics at Saint Louis University, but later said “it was all a waste. Keynesian crap.”[8] After receiving a business degree from Saint Louis University, he went to the University of Chicago. Learning about macroeconomics from future Nobel Prize winner Merton Miller, who “described the intrinsic efficiency of the world’s stock and bond markets,” Sinquefield thought: “It has got to be true.” Studying under Eugene Fama, who coined the term “efficient markets,” Sinquefeld “felt his old assumptions spin about 180 degrees—then click into place.”[15] He received an MBA from Chicago.[8]


Sinquefield then went to work at the American National Bank of Chicago. At American National Bank of Chicago, Sinquefield “put his professors’ ideas into practice, developing, in 1973, the very first S&P 500 passively managed index fund.”[16][17] Seven years later, that fund managed $12 billion.[18]

In 2005, Fortune Magazine recounted the fact that in May 1974, “in the depths of the worst bear market since the 1930s,” Sinquefield and Roger Ibbotson “made a brash prediction: The Dow Jones Industrial Average, floundering in the 800s at the time, would hit 9,218 at the end of 1998 and get to 10,000 by November 1999.”[19]

Dimensional Fund Advisors[edit]

In 1981, Sinquefield and another University of Chicago teaching assistant, David Booth, co-founded Dimensional Fund Advisors, “the first passive fund focused on small (microcap) companies customarily ignored in large institutional portfolios”, which manages more than $582 billion in assets as of June 30, 2018.[20][21]

Dimensional Fund Advisors' investment strategy has been said to create an “optimal portfolio” consisting of various funds that “emulate different style and size attributes of various securities markets worldwide,” so that one fund might behave “like the S&P 500,” another might correlate with “just the value stocks in the S&P 500,” while a third “might emulate the performance of all small-cap stocks.” Sinquefield is a proponent of “passive investment,” meaning that he believes “you simply cannot beat the market.”

“Passive investing,” Sinquefield has said, “generally refers to the idea that you are going to get market rates of return from whatever category you're investing in. If you are invested in stocks, you will do no better or worse than the market over time. If you limit yourself to, say, small-cap stocks, then your return, over time, will be no better or worse than the returns on the aggregate of small stocks. We believe that you're not going to be able to do much better than that because the market doesn't misvalue securities. The prices are right. If you believe in active management, you're saying that there are people who can make valuation judgments that are superior to the market.”[22]

In 2005, he retired from DFA because he was “bored” and returned to St. Louis, where he became involved in politics and philanthropy.


After his return to St. Louis, Sinquefield sought to help “restore some of the glory that St. Louis knew as a thriving trade and transportation hub in the 19th century.” He pointed out to the Wall Street Journal that by 1820 “there were a hundred steamboats a day on the edge of St. Louis coming down the rivers from the East. If you wanted something from Europe, it had to go through St. Louis.”[23]

After St. Louis failed for years to get the Missouri legislature to allow it to control its own police force, which the state had taken over during the Civil War, Sinquefield sponsored a 2012 statewide ballot measure that succeeded in effecting that change. He has also backed efforts to persuade the city and St. Louis County to cooperate more fully.[24]

Show-Me Institute[edit]

On his return to St. Louis, Sinquefield co-founded the Show-Me Institute with R. Crosby Kemper III, a Kansas City banker. Based in Clayton, Show-Me is a think tank that commissions studies on public-policy issues.[25] It has been labeled libertarian,[26][27][28] conservative,[29][30] and free-market.[31] He also is major funder of other influential groups and PACs, such as Pelopidas, LLC.[32] He is president of the institute. Its motto is “Advancing liberty with responsibility by promoting market solutions for Missouri public policy.”[33]

Show-Me has successfully influenced a cable franchise reform bill and HB 818, which made Missouri the first state to let employers contribute pretax dollars to employees’ health-savings accounts. Show-Me has also opposed governments' frivolous use of eminent domain.[34]

Other activities[edit]

Board memberships[edit]

Sinquefield is a director of St. Vincent Home for Children in St. Louis, and a life trustee of DePaul University. He serves on the boards of Saint Louis University, the St. Louis Symphony, the St. Louis Art Museum, the Missouri Botanical Garden,[35] the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis[36], and the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis.[37] He advises the Archdiocese of San Diego on finance.[38]


Along with Yale School of Management professor, Roger G. Ibbotson, he authored the book Stocks, Bonds, Bills and Inflation, a study of stock market returns.[39]

Political campaign contributions[edit]

Sinquefield became a major financial contributor to political campaigns of both political parties in Missouri politics after the Missouri legislature ended campaign finance limits in 2009.[40] According to a 2015 Governing Magazine article, "big majorities" in both houses of the Missouri legislature have received campaign contributions from Sinquefield.[41] He has particularly focused on altering public education, tax reform, and accountability in government.[42]

In 2014 and 2015, he donated $1 million to Republican Bev Randles' 2016 campaign for Lieutenant Governor of Missouri[43] and three quarters of a million to Kurt Schaefer, a Republican candidate for Attorney General.[44] Sinquefield has also donated to Missouri candidates Shane Schoeller, Chris Koster, and Sarah Steelman, as well as to the 2016 gubernatorial campaign of Catherine Hanaway.[45][46]

In 2014, he supported a ballot initiative to abolish teacher tenure in Missouri.[47]

Tax policy activism[edit]

Many of Sinquefield's efforts in recent years have been devoted to changing tax policy throughout Missouri. He advocates eliminating the state's income tax and replacing it with a more comprehensive sales tax.[48]

Sinquefield advocates replacing Missouri's and Kansas' income tax with a state sales tax[41] on things like childcare, restaurants, and hotels.[4]

Sinquefield also supported financially the group Kansans for No Income Tax which helped governor Sam Brownback lower the state income tax significantly.[49] Sinquefield also has repeatedly backed measures to repeal the earnings taxes of St. Louis and Kansas City, Missouri.[50]

He is the primary financial supporter of the Let Voters Decide committee.[51] The committee successfully placed a statewide initiative on the Missouri ballot in 2010. this initiative, called Proposition A, would prevent all Missouri communities except Kansas City and St. Louis from imposing earnings taxes. It would also allow Kansas City and St. Louis voters to vote on whether to retain their earnings taxes.[51] Missourians passed proposition A with a large margin – 68.4% YES / 31.6% NO (1,294,911 YES votes to 598,010 NO votes).[52]

On January 5, 2011, Let Voters Decide submitted nine initiative petitions to the Missouri Secretary of State calling for a repeal of the state's income tax – with a top rate of 6 percent. The petitions also called for a higher sales tax, capped at 7 percent, that would be applied to virtually any good or service transaction involving individuals.[51] Sinquefield and Let Voters Decide President Travis Brown say that replacing the income tax with a sales tax would help create jobs, promote economic development and make state revenue collection less volatile.[53] In 2014, Missouri finally lowered its income tax rate.[54]

Local control of St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department[edit]

Sinquefield supported the successful effort to return local control of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department to the City of St. Louis.[55] Since 1861, the police department had been run by a five-person board that included four gubernatorial appointees.[56][56]

Sinquefield donated $300,000 to "A Safer Missouri", a group supporting the campaign for local control.[57] A Safer Missouri endorsed state legislation in favor of local control,[58] along with a ballot initiative filed with the Missouri Secretary of State, which will be pursued if the legislative efforts fail, according to a spokeswoman for A Safer Missouri.[59] The ballot initiative was filed and entitled Proposition A.[60]

Local control, the Proposition A ballot initiative, received broad support,[61] including St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay,[60] and the Missouri Democratic Party[62][63] On February 22, 2011, the House of Representatives passed House Bill 71, the local measure in that body, by a vote of 109–46.[63] The bill went on the Senate,Senate Bill 23, which failed. Thus the ballot initiative was filed and on November 6, 2012 Proposition A passed with 63.9% to 36.1%.[64]


Sinquefield and his family donate funds to a wide variety of organizations through the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation. The foundation has donated in particular to the Today and Tomorrow Education Foundation, the Children's Education Alliance of Missouri, the Special Learning Center, the Dual Masters Scholarship Program at Saint Louis University, the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis, World Chess Hall of Fame, and the Mizzou New Music Initiative.[65]

In 2009, Sinquefield and his wife gave $1 million to the University of Missouri's School of Music.[66] Those funds were used to create the New Music Initiative, an effort designed to encourage young people to become composers and to support new works of music composition.[67]

Sinquefield has made extensive contributions to the St. Vincent Home for Children.[68]

Saint Louis Chess Campus[edit]

In 2007 Rex Sinquefield opened the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis, a non-profit organization. An educational organization, its mission is to "maintain a formal program of instruction to teach the game of chess and to promote and support its educational program through community outreach and local and national partnerships to increase the awareness of the educational value of chess."[69] In August 2010, Sinquefield provided seed funding to relocate the World Chess Hall of Fame to St. Louis. The Chess Club's presence and reputation also played a role in the relocation decision.[70] The Sinquefield Cup is named after him.

In a 2016 report about St. Louis's new role as a chess capital, BBC News noted that Sinquefield, who likes chess “so much he's put tens of millions of dollars into the game,” was “entirely responsible” for the city's transformation in this regard. Sinquefield “believes in the transforming power of chess,” reported the BBC, which quoted Sinquefield as saying that learning chess “carries over into all aspects of a child's academic life.”[71]

Personal life[edit]

He and his wife, Jeanne, met at the Judo Club at the University of Chicago. They have three children and worked together at DFA, where Jeanne ran the trading department.[72]

Since their return to St. Louis, Sinquefield and his wife have divided their time between a 1,000-acre farm and a mansion in the Central West End. “One of the first things Rex did,” according to St. Louis Magazine, “was bring people to what was now called St. Vincent Home for Children and show them 'every nook and cranny,' - This was his home.'”[73]

He is a devout Roman Catholic.[74]


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  29. ^ Slate Links to Show-Me Institute Study, Show-Me Daily, 2008-11-14, accessed 2009-3-25
  30. ^ "Mississippi Calls for Refore", GavelGrab, 2008-8-11, accessed 2009-3-25
  31. ^ Archived from the original on October 12, 2008. Retrieved September 7, 2016. Missing or empty |title= (help)
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  40. ^ Power Players: Missouri's 17 largest political donors from 2008 to 2013. Retrieved October 29, 2013
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  42. ^ "King Rex". POLITICO Magazine. Retrieved December 30, 2015.
  43. ^ Lee Enterprises. "Missouri's big money man gives $1 million to 2016 lieutenant governor candidate". Retrieved December 30, 2015.
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  48. ^ Rex Sinquefield's Crusade Against Income Taxes March 29, 2012.
  49. ^ Naomi Schaefer Riley (October 26, 2012). "The Weekend Interview with Rex Sinquefield: Meet One of the Super-PAC Men - WSJ". WSJ. Retrieved December 30, 2015.
  50. ^ "Yael T. Abouhalkah: Earnings tax opponents have lots of money — but little else". kansascity. Retrieved April 10, 2016.
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  52. ^ "Missouri Secretary of State". Retrieved December 30, 2015.
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  55. ^ Lee Enterprises. "House committee passes local control measure; Sinquefield backs it". Retrieved December 30, 2015.
  56. ^ a b " Opinion Column: Why you should care about who controls the St. Louis Police Department (02/14/11)". Retrieved December 30, 2015.
  57. ^ "Politics & Government - Springfield News-Leader -". Springfield News-Leader. Retrieved December 30, 2015.
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External links[edit]

  • An interview with Rex Sinquefield explaining the investment philosophy he pioneered.
  • An article on Sinquefield's receipt of the 1999 Distinguished Entrepreneurial Alumni award from the University of Chicago graduate school of business.
  • Fortune article on Sinquefield's investment predictions.
  • Article on Sinquefield's political activities in Missouri.
  • [1] Saint Louis Chess Club and Scholastic Center