Saturday, August 20, 2016
It's not the assets, it's the debt
Who and how much Donald Trump owes for the privilege of calling himself a Yuge Billionaire is the key tohow big a liar he is and who will have influence over him. You can be sure it won't be the rubes who show up at his rallies.
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.It is probably safe to say that Donald Trump has very little free cash, and what he does have needs to keep moving to make him appear rich. And don't hou just love the idea that his kids will run his "empire" while he is in office. Absolutely no way they will ever talk business at any time.
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 that 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.
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 might not be held personally liable, but the value of his investments would 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.
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