Monday, August 22, 2016

Trump: worth less and owing more than he says

"Donald likes to say his bankruptcy filings were just a tool he's been using for his businesses. He's had a string of failures. And you're not just talking about big investors. You're also taking about bond holders, not big banks — people who invested their retirements.” — Mike D'Antonio, author of the book "Never Enough: Donald Trump and the Pursuit of Success

IF YOU know anyone who thinks she should vote for Donald Trump because he’s “good at business”, please disabuse her (or him) of that notion. According to Money Talks News, Trump is worth $10 billion less than if he’d simply invested in index funds. 


Even Forbes conservatively estimates that Trump is worth $6 billion less that he says he is.


The New York Times has conducted a detailed investigation which reveals that instead of being the skilled business man he purports to be, he’s a master of the shell game. I’m sharing with you the first 500 words or so of the investigative report with a link to the rest of the story.


The letters coming down at the closed Trump Plaza Casino in October 2014. 
Photo: Mark Makela/Reuters (from The New York Times)

Trump’s Empire: A Maze of Debts and Opaque Ties

By Susanne Craig

August. 20, 2016

On the campaign trail, Donald J. Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, has sold himself as a businessman who has made billions of dollars and is beholden to no one.


But an investigation by The New York Times into the financial maze of Mr. Trump’s real estate holdings in the United States reveals that companies he owns have at least $650 million in debt — twice the amount than can be gleaned from public filings he has made as part of his bid for the White House. The Times’s inquiry also found that Mr. Trump’s fortunes depend deeply on a wide array of financial backers, including one he has cited in attacks during his campaign.


For example, an office building on Avenue of the Americas in Manhattan, of which Mr. Trump is part owner, carries a $950 million loan. Among the lenders: the Bank of China, one of the largest banks in a country that Mr. Trump has railed against as an economic foe of the United States, and Goldman Sachs, a financial institution he has said controls Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, after it paid her $675,000 in speaking fees.


Real estate projects often involve complex ownership and mortgage structures. And given Mr. Trump’s long real estate career in the United States and abroad, as well as his claim that his personal wealth exceeds $10 billion, it is safe to say that no previous major party presidential nominee has had finances nearly as complicated.


As president, Mr. Trump would have substantial sway over monetary and tax policy, as well as the power to make appointments that would directly affect his own financial empire. He would also wield influence over legislative issues that could have a significant impact on his net worth, and would have official dealings with countries in which he has business interests.


Yet The Times’s examination underscored how much of Mr. Trump’s business remains shrouded in mystery. He has declined to disclose his tax returns or allow an independent valuation of his assets.


Earlier in the campaign, Mr. Trump submitted a 104-page federal financial disclosure form. It said his businesses owed at least $315 million to a relatively small group of lenders and listed ties to more than 500 limited liability companies. Though he answered the questions, the form appears to have been designed for candidates with simpler finances than his, and did not require disclosure of portions of his business activities.


Beyond finding that companies owned by Mr. Trump had debts of at least $650 million, The Times discovered that a substantial portion of his wealth is tied up in three passive partnerships that owe an additional $2 billion to a string of lenders, including those that hold the loan on the Avenue of the Americas building. If those loans were to go into default, Mr. Trump would not be held liable, the Trump Organization said. The value of his investments, however, would certainly sink.


Mr. Trump has said that if he were elected president, his children would be likely to run his company. Many presidents, to avoid any appearance of a conflict, have placed their holdings in blind trusts, which typically involves selling the original asset, and replacing it with different assets unknown to the seller.


Mr. Trump’s children seem unlikely to pursue that option.


Richard W. Painter, a professor of law at the University of Minnesota and, from 2005 to 2007, the chief White House ethics lawyer under President George W. Bush, compared Mr. Trump to Henry M. Paulson Jr., a former chief executive of Goldman Sachs whom Mr. Bush appointed as Treasury secretary.


Professor Painter advised Mr. Paulson on his decision to sell his Goldman Sachs shares, saying it was clear that Mr. Paulson could not simply have placed that stock in trust and pretended it did not exist.


If Mr. Trump were to use a blind trust, the professor said, it would be “like putting a gold watch in a box and pretending you don’t know it is in there.”


Read the whole story here

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