I Nailed Donald Trump in 2005

Back in 2005 on my old blog, a free market fundamentalist — today he’d be called a member of the Tea Party — stated that the public figure he most admired was Donald Trump. What in the world for?? I asked. This is what I wrote:

TrumpHe’s hardly a rags-to-riches embodiment of the American dream, proving their point that anyone with gumption can make it big in America. Born with a silver spoon in his mouth, he got a big head start in business because he had an extremely successful father. He invested in casinos — not exactly an industry creating great social good. He has a reputation for treating women as objects. He’s so obsessed with cleanliness he refuses to shake hands, for fear of getting other people’s germs. He strikes me as a man with a number of mental disorders, like Howard Hughes.

Ron said…

Trump started his fortune with $30,000 borrowed from his father. Hardly a princely sum, but not rags to riches either. How about a jeans to riches model….starting out middle class and becoming fabulously wealthy.

And, what do you have against casinos? Lots of people have great fun at such places. Go to Vegas for a weekend, play a little golf, catch a couple of shows, play a few hands of baccarat, spin the wheel of fortune, feed a few dollars to the one-armed bandit. Nice break in the routine of life.

Jim Buie said…

Trump borrowed $20 million to $30 million from his father, according to the Christian Science Monitor and the New York Times.


He’s a third generation real estate mogul who inherited “the art of the deal” from his father and grandfather.


He earned his wealth the old-fashioned way — he inherited it. Money follows money. It takes money to make money, and all that.

What is most ironic is the portrayal of Trump as a “little guy” who made it big after starting on a shoestring. Do you really believe such crappola?

It’s also appalling that many who claim to detest “big, wasteful government programs,” admire this man who gamed the system with his exploitation of government housing programs designed to help the less fortunate. Without knowing how to pull strings and without knowing precisely how to suck from the government teat, Trump would probably not be where he is today.

While in college, with his father’s assistance, he purchased an apartment complex at a bankruptcy sale, for $6 million. He sold it for $12 million 18 months later.

“Without a penny of their own invested they were able to turn the apartment complex around by taking a strict approach at rent collection and by remodelling the appearance of the complex. Trump was able to see how the government would assist buyers in purchasing property with little or no financial backing. and best of all how do get such aid. This incident was the beginnings of the Donald Trump we know today. This event proved to be the single most important lesson Donald Trump learned.”


No doubt the people who think Hillary Clinton’s relatively modest profit in pork bellies was a shameful deed cheer Trump on for gaming the system.

Trump’s early rise was due to timely speculation. He’s impulsive, reckless, aggressive, and damn lucky. Because he was white, privileged, and knew how to pull strings, with his father’s assistance and cushion he survived where others, less fortunate, would not have.

He clearly suffers from an obsessive compulsive disorder, and is at least “a little bit crazy.”

However, he has the ability to “understand the psychology of the wealthy.” He has an oustanding memory, the ability to sniff out waste, and the ability to make deals.

“Donald Trump was simply a speculator who was bound to eventually get knocked down by debt and the normal business cycle.”


Ron said…

One by one–the $20-30 million Trump is alleged to have borrowed (which he denies) was from his father’s estate, not his father. And, if is happened at all, the money was borrowed not to get a start in business, but to shore up his financial empire during the real estate depression of the early 90s when developers and real estate investors were going broke right and left. Trump barely averted bankruptcy, managed to renegotiate his debt and managed to survive with much of his empire intact at a time when other major real estate investors were crashing. In his book, The Art of the Comeback, Trump lays his financial problems at the time at his own feet–he says he let other people run his business while he played…he lost focus and got lazy by his own account.

The apartment deal that you denigrate was a little different in actuality. The building was in foreclosure because of mismanagement. Trumps father bought it and used government financing available to anyone to renovate the building and put it back in good operating condition. It is possible even for a home buyer to borrow more than the purchase price of a home if the surplus is going to be used to renovate or upgrade the home. After getting the building back in good operating condition and getting the cash flow up to par, the building was sold for a profit. Imagine that–the elder Trump did what real estate investors do every day…namely buy real estate with a goal of making a profit. And, looking at the bare bones of the deal–looks like a pretty normal deal.

Most business deals…especially real estate deals are leveraged which is another way of saying the investor has little or no money in the deal. I would say typically a real estate developer has less than 10% of the retail value of the finished project actually invested out of his own pocket. On large projects, even less. It is the name of the game–leverage.

It is certainly true that Trump benefitted from association with his father to learn the real estate business. There are mentors in every business–some of them family, some not. I know a man who every 5 years or so takes on someone to mentor–teaches them real estate development and backs their efforts with his money. Then, when they are competent and established, he finds someone new to mentor. Not all that uncommon actually.

By all reputable accounts, when “The Donald” left his father’s employ and moved to Manhattan to strike out on his own–he was nearly broke (one of the sources given above stipulates this also). It is also true that he borrowed a small sum to do his first deal on his own…the figure given is usually $30K. I don’t know if the elder Trump took a position in the deal, but I bet he did which would put him in the same position as any other investor.

It is true that Donald Trump is open to criticism by those who have nothing better to do over his personal life. He is, or was, a womanizer apparently. And, he is certainly a loudmouth. But any personal failings should not get in the way of recognizing his achievments

Jim Buie said…

“It is true that Donald Trump is open to criticism by those who have nothing better to do over his personal life.”

Do you have the same standard for Bill Clinton and Ted Kennedy?

I’ll acknowledge that Donald Trump has talents and achievements if you’ll acknowledge that Ted Kennedy has talents and achievements. Hey they are both loud mouths, and were both at one time, womanizers.

Possibly they are cut from the same psychological cloth.

Trump is about as much of a self-made man in real estate as Ted Kennedy is in politics.

Ron said…

The difference is that Trump is a private person while Kennedy and Clinton were/are supposedly public servants.

And, if getting the training and knowledge to succeed from one’s parents or some other mentor means you are not self-made when your own decisions pay off, then no one is self-made. Obviously an absurd proposition. In Trump’s case, he learned about real estate from his father–but it could have been any other mentor. We all have them at some point in our life. It is what you do with the knowledge gained from your mentor that marks you as a success.

Keep in mind as you look at Trump’s family—“The Donald” moved off into an entirely diffferent realm of real estate than his father was in. Trump played in a whole different game and arena than his father ever did. To compare what Trump did to what his father did is like comparing a Little League team to the Boston Red Sox.

Jim Buie said…

Perhaps so. By the same token, to compare what Ted Kennedy has accomplished in nearly 45 years of public life to what his father accomplished, to continue saying he would be nowhere without his family name or resources, just isn’t credible. (Click to discuss that thread.)

If you want to examine the life of a real self-made man, look not at Trump, or Kennedy, and certainly not at Bush, but at Bill Clinton, whose father died before he was born.

Ron said…

Ted Kennedy has certainly had a successful career as a legislator something I think no one can deny regardless of what they think of the legislation he sponsored.

Would ha have even been elected the first time, however, without the family assets–botn monetary and personal. It also certainly helped that he was the brother to a former President and US AG.

However, if Kennedy was judged solely on his personal life, I think most would agree that he doesn’t come out as a sterling character of impeccable virtue.

As the article you sent me points out, there are some interesting similarities between Howard Hughes and Trump. There are also some notable differences–Hughes inherited a financial empire and made it grow. Trump borrowed his first seed money and built his fortunes on his own. Both obviously benefited from education,etc because they came from affluent families.

Like Kennedy, if they were judged solely on their personal life, some would see them as not characters of great value (although it seems that there great “downfall” was a preference for beautiful women).

However, if you look at their accomplishments in the field of business, there is a great deal to be admired.

It is true that both had a talent for creating and marketing an image–not a bad thing in the world of business. If you sit down in a negotiating session and feel that you are opposed by THE Donald or MR. Hughes, you probably already have one strike against you since you are obviously feeling a little intimidated and unsure.

Leo said…

Such well articulated comments..well its 2 o’clock in the morning and I am just too damn tired for that, so hows this..all 3, Trump, Kennedy and Clinton are a bunch of Megalomaniac Jack Asses!If you do not know what that is..look it up, it fits them to a -T

Ron M said…

Obviously Leo is a man who cuts to the chase…even at 2AM.

Jaydee said…

I work in an industry that allows me to be in close contact with some of the richest people on the planet, and all the Billionaires I know, keep a very low profile… the last thing they want is for their real net worth to be exposed – that is because they all have very sensitive fiscal and corporate issues. All of them have very complicated tax and inheritance structures often offshore and it would be very detrimental for them to expose their real net worth nor they would seek to have thier own TV show.

Mr. Trump’s behavior is the one of a typical megalomaniac whose net worth to my belief is far from what he claims. Just the mire fact that he sues people because of a book that claims he is not a billioniare, or that he gets upset when the media publishes something other than what he claims his real net worth is – it means he is a “Wanna Be”.
A REAL Billionaire keeps his mouth shut and tries not to attract attention – To the Contrary Mr. Trump is constantly seeking attention.

Ron M said…

Ah….and then there is Ted Turner, George Soros, Eli Broad. Not all billionaires want to hide their light under a basket.

All of which begs the question. The issue isn’t the personalities of the Trumps of the world….why would anyone care about their personality. The issue is that in their chosen fields they have been very productive and have established lucrative careers.

I picked Trump as an examplar because like him I make my living in the real estate industry. That and I love the buildings he has put up in Manhattan–especially the one overlooking the UN.

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