Judging by the poll numbers, Donald Trump has already succeeded in rendering nearly half of the American electorate morally bankrupt.
And if his message continues to resonate with disaffected Europeans who have already been whipped into a nationalist frenzy by xenophobic demagogues, he may succeed in doing the same to EU voters who are increasingly distrustful of … well, damn near everything (see Figure 7 below).
Note the title of the chart in the right pane above: “Trust in Government, Business, Media, and NGOs.” Fomenting distrust of those very same institutions is the modus operandi of the alt-right blogosphere which I condemned in these very pages earlier this week (see here and here).
Thankfully, when it comes to bankrupting things with the intention of bringing them back to life, Donald Trump has plenty of experience. Most readers are no doubt aware that the bellicose billionaire has filed Chapter 11 a number of times, but since we’re but two weeks away from inauguration day, I thought a retrospective was in order.
Bankruptcy 1: The Trump Taj Mahal, 1991
The first bankruptcy associated with Trump was perhaps the most significant in terms of his personal finances, according to news reports at the time. He funded the construction of the $1 billion Trump Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City, which opened in 1990. By 1991, the casino was nearly $3 billion in debt, while Trump had racked up nearly $900 million in personal liabilities, so the business decided to file for Chapter 11 reorganization, according to the New York Times. As a result, Trump gave up half his personal stake in the casino and sold his yacht and airline, according to the Washington Post.
Bankruptcy 2: Trump Plaza Hotel, 1992
Trump acquired the Plaza Hotel in New York for $390 million in 1988. By 1992, the hotel had accumulated $550 million in debt. As a result of the bankruptcy, in exchange for easier terms on which to pay off the debts, Trump relinquished a 49 percent stake in the Plaza to a total of six lenders, according to ABC News. Trump remained the hotel’s CEO, but it was merely a gesture — he didn’t earn a salary and had no say in the hotel’s day-to-day operations, according to the New York Times.
Bankruptcy 3: Trump Hotels and Casinos Resorts, 2004
Trump Hotels and Casinos Resorts filed for bankruptcy again in 2004 when his casinos — including the Trump Taj Mahal, Trump Marina and Trump Plaza casinos in Atlantic City and a riverboat casino in Indiana — had accrued an estimated $1.8 billion in debt, according to the Associated Press. Trump agreed to reduce his share in the company from 47 to 27 percent in a restructuring plan, but he was still the company’s largest single shareholder and remained in charge of its operations. Trump told the Associated Press at the time that the company represented less than 1 percent of his net worth.
Bankruptcy 4: Trump Entertainment Resorts, 2009
Trump Entertainment Resorts — formerly Trump Hotels and Casinos Resorts — was hit hard by the 2008 economic recession and missed a $53.1 million bond interest payment in December 2008, according to ABC News. After debating with the company’s board of directors, Trump resigned as the company’s chairman and had his corporate stake in the company reduced to 10 percent. The company continued to use Trump’s name in licensing.