After winning the 2016 election, Donald Trump made it abundantly clear that he planned to financially profit off the the presidency while serving as president. “The president can’t have a conflict of interest” he told reporters during the transition, by way of explaining why he wouldn’t be cutting ties with his company, but simply handing over day-to-day management of the Trump Organization to his eldest sons, who keep him fully apprised of how things are going in his absence. Days before the inauguration, the initiation fee at Mar-a-Lago, where members are given free rein to oversee the federal agencies of their choosing, doubled to $200,000. Trump has taken numerous trips to the Palm Beach resort during his first 20 months in office, often hosting foreign heads of state at the “winter White House,” where the golf markers bear the presidential seal. Even when he’s not there, Trump is advertising its splendor to potential paying customers, casually letting it slip during an interview that the dining room happened to serve “the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake that you’ve ever seen” when he decided to bomb Syria. The blatant corruption doesn’t start or end in Florida—while shilling condos in India earlier this year, Don Jr. invited buyers to pony up an extra $38,000 for up-close-and-personal access to a key member of the president’s inner circle (himself). And, of course, there’s the Washington hotel that opened days before the 2016 election, where foreign and domestic governments know booking a room is a great way to get in Trump’s good graces.
Yet for all of his attempts—many of which have been successful!—at using the office of the presidency to further enrich himself and his family members, a new report paints a very sad picture for a wealth-obsessed man who once said, “part of the beauty of me is that I’m very rich.” According to the most recent Forbes billionaires list, Trump’s net worth has dropped more than $1 billion since becoming president, falling from $4.5 billion to $3.1 billion over the past two years, and placing him at a Siberian 259 on the Forbes 400 list of the richest people in the U.S. The magazine attributed the decline in Trump’s wealth to three factors: e-commerce hurting the value of his real-estate holdings, heightened security at his resorts, and his “own over-reporting of the size of his penthouse.” And then, of course, there’s the matter of people not wanting to buy stuff associated with a guy who throws kids in cages and is generally a national embarrassment:
Revenue from Trump-branded ties, whiskies, MAGA hats and other merchandise has plummeted to just $3 million from $23 million in 2015. “He has significantly tarnished the brand,” licensing expert Jeff Lotman told Forbes.
At Trump’s golf clubs, revenue is down 9 percent, partially due to members resenting the fact that they have to go through several layers of security to get in. At Trump Tower, condos are down 33 percent. And hotel revenue has plummeted $30 million since the real estate developer announce he was running for office. In fact, the president’s personal financial picture would have been even worse were it not for his commitment to making money off of his current gig:
Business at the Trump International Hotel in Washington is doing well thanks to an influx of foreign government officials and GOP bookings. Similarly, the value of the “winter White House,” Mar-a-Lago, rose by $10 million, to $160 million—and also reportedly doubled its initiation fee to $200,000.
And while we would never suggest that the president is the sort of person who seethes over the riches of his enemies, if he were, he probably wouldn’t be thrilled to hear that last year was a banner year for one of his many arch-nemeses: Jeff Bezos. According to Forbes, the Amazon founder’s net worth grew to $160 billion, or 52 times that of the president. In related news, buried in last week’s report from The New York Times alleging decades of tax fraud by the Trump family is the sad! fact that if Donald had done nothing but park the millions his father gave him in an index fund that tracks the S&P 500, he’d still be worth about $2 billion today.
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Report: tax cuts, a booming stock market not enough to buy off Wall Street
Time was, Republicans thought they could rely on tax cuts, a strong economy, and the bogeyman threat of regulation to ensure Wall Street and the broader business community would open up their check books for the G.O.P. But this election cycle has thrown several wrenches into that equation, one of them being tax legislation that disproportionately hurt states where Wall Street’s top earners live and the other being the personality of one Donald Trump. Per The New York Times:
Four years ago, in the last congressional midterm, Republican incumbents and candidates outraised Democratic counterparts by more than $50 million in direct donations from the broader finance, insurance, and real-estate industries, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. And in 2016 and 2012, Republicans outraised Democrats from that group by nearly $50 million and $100 million respectively, the data shows. This year, Democrats held a narrow $5 million advantage through the middle of the year.
That figure will shift, possibly substantially, when candidates reveal their latest fund-raising hauls later this month. But Democrats have already surpassed their 2012 and 2014 totals, and most Republicans with ties to Wall Street described a grim political outlook. . . . From donors in just the securities and investment sector, Democratic congressional incumbents and candidates have so far received $39.3 million in 2018, compared with $28 million for Republicans. That is a reversal from 2014, when Democrats raised $28 million and Republicans $41.5 million. In 2018, 15 of the top 20 congressional recipients of securities and investment industry cash are Democrats; in 2014, 15 of the top 20 were Republicans.
“You would expect, with the economy doing as well as it is today, that there would be a desire to keep the status quo,” Thomas R. Nides, a former adviser to Hillary Clinton now working on Wall Street, told the Times. “[But] I don’t think people care. They’re worried about the direction of the country.”
Brett Kavanuagh’s first vote could pay it forward for Republicans for years to come
Since his nomination was announced up through a Capitol Hill hearing in which he blamed the Clintons for a wave of sexual assault allegations against him, no one has labored under the expectation that Brett Kavanaugh will cast any votes on the Supreme Court that won’t fall expressly on party lines. (Kavanaugh has denied all of the allegations against him.) But it turns out that in his very first act as an associate justice, the Georgetown prep alum will have a chance to help Republicans potentially solidify power for the next decade, should he grant an emergency stay application the administration is likely to request in order to prevent Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross from being deposed over a decision to put a citizenship question on the 2020 U.S. Census, which critics say could hurt blue states where undocumented immigrants would be less likely to participate. Per New York’s __Eric Levitz:__
Data from the decennial Census shapes the contours of political districts, and determines each state’s clout in the Electoral College. It also dictates what proportion of federal funding for schools, roads, and libraries each state is entitled to. Thus, if a Republican administration found a facially neutral way of systematically undercounting residents in Democratic-leaning areas, it could inflate red America’s (already disproportionate) influence over our political system. . . . Most undocumented immigrants live in Democratic-leaning metropolitan areas, so the fewer of them the government counts, the greater the share of federal money and political influence that rural, Republican-leaning areas will hold.
And after Republicans helped clinch him a lifetime appointment despite credible allegations of sexual assault against him, obvious bias, and a temperament that wouldn’t fly for an associate regional manner of Dairy Queen, would Kavanaugh really not want to return the favor?
Bonds in $916 Billion Wipeout Spark Fear of Worst Run Since 1976 (Bloomberg
Tesla’s Value Sinks by $10 Billion in a Week (Bloomberg
The last time unemployment was this low, we were hit with a recession (CNBC
Morgan Stanley Redesigns Offices for a “Dynamic, Millennial” Workforce (Bloomberg
After selling off his father’s properties, Trump embraced unorthodox strategies to expand his empire (Washington Post
How Nuns Won Duels with the Gun Makers (Barron‘s
Banks Brace for the Downside of Higher Rates (W.S.J.
A small team of traders at Goldman Sachs made $100 million betting on natural gas—and it could be thanks to a “bomb cyclone” driving prices to a record level (Business Insider
Driver suspended for letting monkey steer bus (U.P.I.