President Trump says he wants to open up the country to business as usual on April 12 or thereabouts. When health professionals are saying otherwise, why is this self-proclaimed genius driven to minimize the extent of the Coronavirus and return to normal prematurely? The truth is that Trump is fighting for his financial life. Few presidents in history have had their decisions so influenced by their personal finances. His failure to disclose his income taxes was just the tip of the iceberg. The truth is that he’s far from being a comfortable billionaire. He’s only super rich in his imagination, especially when you subtract his debts.
Trump’s stated worth is in the range of $3 billion. So far, I’ve been able to track Trump’s debts in the range of $2 to $2.5 billion. This estimate is based on sources such as Bloomberg indicating $650 million, and multiple loans from Deutsche Bank, $950 million owed to the Bank of China, debts to various businessmen, Russian and Israeli, and other disclosed bank sources. To make a real estate empire profitable requires on-going rental payments to service debt. Hardly anyone pays cash for a building. The greater the debt, or leverage as they say in the business, the greater the payments required to stay afloat.
Given an interest rate of 6 percent, for purposes of discussion, this means that Trump needs to service debt alone in the range of approximately $120-150 million annually. Since Trump has defaulted on several loans already, and in one instance sued Deutsche Bank to try to block collection, one can assume that there is more trouble brewing.
Trump’s financial coffin is getting nailed shut by Coronavirus. His hotels and properties are almost empty. Who cares about seeing his taxes when we can get access to his bankruptcy records? As the devastating effects of Covid-19 continue, he will need access to massive amounts of capital at favorable rates, and terms that don’t topple his shaky empire.
The President is making decisions for the nation based on his own financial concerns. Mr. Trump’s election is a testament to the fact that anything is possible in America. A real estate promoter turned reality show host with no political experience convinces the Electoral College that he’s uniquely qualified to be president of the United States. People on the right cheered, “Hey Don, good job”, “Way to go”, “Three cheers for you.” Lawsuits for running a scam real estate school, sexual harassment charges including rape, and a slew of bankruptcies were cast aside.
Part of Trump’s allure is his narcissism. Many Americans find it entertaining when he says “I’m the biggest, smartest, most popular and richest person in the room. Stick with me and tremendous things are going to happen, like you’ve never seen before”. The virus won’t be impressed by his claims to wealth.