Many observers think the real-estate mogul may not be as outlandishly wealthy as he claims.
Donald Trump should put his money where his mouth is. The real-estate mogul says he’s worth “in excess” of $10 billion. I think he’s lying, as does pretty much every expert and financial journalist who has looked into the question. Forbes has put his net worth at $4.5 billion. Bloomberg says it’s below $3 billion. Billionaire Mark Cuban has cast doubt on whether Trump is even a billionaire at all.
I’ve read the analyses, but common sense always told me he was full of it. Actual multi-billionaires tend not to waste their time recording videos hawking steaks in the Sharper Image catalog. They don’t bother with snake-oil schemes peddling dietary supplements. They don’t claim under oath that much of their net worth depends on how good a mood they’re in. And they don’t threaten to sue anyone who suggests they aren’t as rich as they claim.
This last point is especially significant. Trump’s business model is to exploit his brand as a super-successful Manhattan real-estate mogul. The fact that he is, in reality, a “relatively minor player” in that world, as economics writer Adam Davidson recently noted in The New York Times Magazine, is entirely beside the point. He’s selling the sizzle, not the steak (clearly, not the steaks).
That’s especially true overseas, where he does a large share of his business (he’s in Scotland for some grand opening right now). He’s nowhere near the richest man in America, but he’s arguably the American most famous for being rich. That opens doors in Eastern Europe and Asia. It also improves his mood, which apparently can be a real windfall.
I’ve talked to numerous political pros and quite a few actual billionaires, and the totally uncorroborated theory most of them hold is that Trump never expected to do this well. It was a P.R. stunt that got out of hand. The dog caught the car and now he doesn’t know what to do with it.Read the rest of Jonah Goldberg's op-ed HERE.
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