Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Trump's long history of business failure: Sad

At Newsweek, Kurt Eichenwald explores little Donnie Trump's business career.
Lost contracts, bankruptcies, defaults, deceptions and indifference to investors—Trump’s business career is a long, long list of such troubles, according to regulatory, corporate and court records, as well as sworn testimony and government investigative reports. Call it the art of the bad deal, one created by the arrogance and recklessness of a businessman whose main talent is self-promotion.

He is also pretty good at self-deception, and plain old deception. Trump is willing to claim success even when it is not there, according to his own statements. “I’m just telling you, you wouldn’t say that you're failing,” he said in a 2007 deposition when asked to explain why he would give an upbeat assessment of his business even if it was in trouble. “If somebody said, ‘How you doing?’ you're going to say you're doing good.” Perhaps such dissembling is fine in polite cocktail party conversation, but in the business world it’s called lying.
And while Trump is quick to boast that his purported billions prove his business acumen, his net worth is almost unknowable given the loose standards and numerous outright misrepresentations he has made over the years. In that 2007 deposition, Trump said he based estimates of his net worth at times on “psychology” and “my own feelings.” But those feelings are often wrong—in 2004, he presented unaudited financials to Deutsche Bank while seeking a loan, claiming he was worth $3.5 billion. The bank concluded Trump was, to say the least, puffing; it put his net worth at $788 million, records show. (Trump personally guaranteed $40 million of the loan to his company, so Deutsche coughed up the money. He later defaulted on that commitment.)
Trump’s many misrepresentations of his successes and his failures matter—a lot. As a man who has never held so much as a city council seat, there is little voters can examine to determine if he is competent to hold office. He has no voting record and presents few details about specific policies. Instead, he sells himself as qualified to run the country because he is a businessman who knows how to get things done, and his financial dealings are the only part of his background available to assess his competence to lead the country. And while Trump has had a few successes in business, most of his ventures have been disasters.
What of his successes?
Trump boasted when he announced his candidacy last year that he had made his money “the old-fashioned way,” but he is no Bill Gates or Michael Bloomberg, self-made billionaires who were mavericks, innovators in their fields. Instead, the Republican nominee’s wealth is Daddy-made. Almost all of his best-known successes are attributable to family ties or money given to him by his father.
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Even with those advantages, a few of Trump’s initial deals for his father were busts, based on the profits. His first project was revitalizing the Swifton Village apartment complex in Cleveland, which his father had purchased for $5.7 million in 1962. After Trump finished his work, they sold the complex for $6.75 million, which, while appearing to be a small return, was a loss; in constant dollars, the apartment buildings would have had to sell for $7.9 million to have earned an actual profit. Still, Trump happily boasted about his supposed success with Swifton Village and about his surging personal wealth.
Daddy Trump kept coming to his rescue:
Despite the outward signs of success, Trump’s personal finances were a disaster. In 1978, the year his father set up that sweet credit line at Chase, Donald’s tax returns showed personal losses of $406,386—$1.5 million in present-day dollars. Things grew worse in 1979, when he reported an income of negative $3.4 million, $11.2 million in constant dollars. All of this traced back to big losses in three real estate partnerships and interest he owed Chase. With Trump sucking wind and rapidly drawing down his line of credit, he turned again to Daddy, who in 1980 agreed to lend him $7.5 million.
All of these names and numbers can grow confusing for voters with little exposure to the business world. So to sum it all up, Trump is rich because he was born rich—and without his father repeatedly bailing him out, he would have likely filed for personal bankruptcy before he was 35.
Trump went to war with Native Americans over gaming contracts in the 1990's, even as other casino investors were making deals and money with them:
For opponents of Trump’s presidential run, this contretemps about American Indians might seem like a distant but familiar echo of the racism charges that have dogged his campaign, including his repeated taunting of Senator Elizabeth Warren as “Pocahontas” because she claims native ancestry. But, in this case, there was more to it than that: Trump, through his offensive tantrum, was throwing away financial opportunities, yet another reminder that, for all his boasting of his acumen and flaunting of his wealth, the self-proclaimed billionaire has often been a lousy businessman.
As Trump was denigrating Native Americans before Congress, other casino magnates were striking management agreements with them. Trump knew the business was there even when he was testifying; despite denying under oath that he had ever tried to arrange deals with Indian casinos, he had done just that a few months earlier, according to an affidavit from Richard Milanovich, the official from the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians who met with Trump, letters from the Trump Organization and phone records. The deal for the Agua Caliente casino instead went to Caesars World. (In 2000, Trump won a contract to manage the casino for the Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians, but after Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts declared bankruptcy in 2004, the tribe paid Trump $6 million to go away.) And in his purposeless, false and inflammatory statements before Congress, Trump alienated politicians from around the country, including some who had the power to influence construction contracts—problems that could have been avoided if he had simply read his prepared speech rather than ad-libbing.
Read the whole article---it's worth your time. And for Trump's billionaire status, there's this nugget:
But those feelings are often wrong—in 2004, he presented unaudited financials to Deutsche Bank while seeking a loan, claiming he was worth $3.5 billion. The bank concluded Trump was, to say the least, puffing; it put his net worth at $788 million, records show. (Trump personally guaranteed $40 million of the loan to his company, so Deutsche coughed up the money. He later defaulted on that commitment.)
But of course he did. And in the 12 years since, he has had the opportunity to lose lots and lots of other people's money, including what was left of his own.

Only in the bizarro world we have been inhabiting of late could this long sorry history of business failure, bankruptcy, default, and fraud be viewed as success.


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