As you might expect, Donald Trump is not amused with The New York Times and their bombshell investigative report which casts considerable doubt on the President’s “I’m a self-made billionaire” narrative.
The fallout from the Times exposé will likely continue for months as New York tax authorities investigate myriad allegations of fraud.
On Wednesday morning, Trump was incredulous at what he claims is an unprecedented decision by the Times to employ a fundamental concept of economics and finance.
“The Failing New York Times did something I have never seen done before”, the President tweeted, before marveling that the paper “used the concept of ‘time value of money’ in doing a very old, boring and often told hit piece on me.”
“Time value of money” is hardly some obscure concept; it’s so mainstream that it needn’t really be placed in scare quotes. In fact, it’s basically the core principle of finance, although it makes sense that Trump isn’t all that familiar with it because he has shown time and again that his understanding of finance and economics is elementary at best.
But while the President might not be particularly well-versed in the standardized first chapter of every Finance 101 textbook ever published, he does know, with absolute certainty, how to “add up” the exact percentage of New York Times articles written about him that are “bad”. That figure, Trump imagines, is “97%”. To wit, from the same Wednesday morning tweet:
Added up, this means that 97% of their stories on me are bad. Never recovered from bad election call!
Oh, and don’t let it be lost on you that The Times also validated Elizabeth Warren’s claim that Trump would likely be a billionaire had he simply eschewed real estate, casinos, fake universities and mail-order steak businesses in favor of a simple S&P 500 index fund.
Here’s the Times:
Here is what can be said with certainty: Had Mr. Trump done nothing but invest the money his father gave him in an index fund that tracks the Standard & Poor’s 500, he would be worth $1.96 billion today. As for that $1 million loan, Fred Trump actually lent him at least $60.7 million, or $140 million in today’s dollars, The Times found.
This is a great time to remind everyone that Hillary Clinton essentially wrote the New York Times article in real-time during a 2016 debate. Here’s Vanity Fair’s Bess Levin recounting:
Seven lifetimes ago, during a presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, the conversation turned to the then G.O.P. candidate’s wealth, which he believed qualified him to be president, despite the fact that he lacked any relevant experience whatsoever for the job. Angrily responding to Clinton’s claim that he’d started his business with $14 million from his father, Fred Trump, Donald huffily shot back that in fact it was a “very small loan” in the range of $1 million, which he parlayed “into a company that’s worth many, many billions of dollars.” Later, when Clinton asserted that her opponent “paid nothing in federal taxes,” he responded “that makes me smart.”
As it turns out, both of Clinton’s jabs—that the so-called self-made billionaire received a tad bit more than $1 million from his father, and that he knows a thing or two about tax-dodging—turned out to be more or less correct.