Donald Trump’s Net Wealth Plummets By $600,000,000

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Here’s a lesson no one ever learned at Trump University: sometimes doing the right thing, the ethical thing, is also the profitable thing. After 25 years of wheedling, lying, finessing, and downright cheating his way onto the Forbes 25 richest Americans list, Donald Trump has fallen off it due to greed and his own ignorance.

After assessing the worth of Trump’s assets, Forbes found that Trump has lost millions since the pandemic began, just as many other businessmen have. However, Trump was the president of the United States, and the pandemic shouldn’t have affected him because a public health crisis should not affect a president’s wealth. Why? Because he shouldn’t, ethically, have kept those businesses in the first place. Whether or not it was legal to do so, it was not an ethical decision, but it was the decision Trump made.

According to Forbes:

‘He is down $600 million since the start of the pandemic. Technology stocks, cryptocurrencies and other assets have thrived in the Covid era. But big-city properties—which make up the bulk of Trump’s fortune—have languished, knocking the former president out of the nation’s most exclusive club.’

Although ethics officials in government attempted to explain to him that divesting his assets did not mean giving up his money and that it was simply the right thing to do, Trump insisted that his business continue unchanged, but with his two eldest sons acting as public figureheads. Doing the right thing, however, might have saved him billions in lost revenue once the pandemic hit.

‘If Trump is looking for someone to blame, he can start with himself. Five years ago, he had a golden opportunity to diversify his fortune. Fresh off the 2016 election, federal ethics officials were pushing Trump to divest his real estate assets. That would have allowed him to reinvest the proceeds into broad-based index funds and assume office free of conflicts of interest…Trump decided to hang onto his assets…If Trump had managed to avoid capital gains taxes, he could have theoretically reinvested $3.5 billion into the S&P 500 on the day he entered the White House. In that alternate scenario, Trump would have been worth an estimated $7 billion by this September, when Forbes locked in estimates for its annual list, enough to earn a spot as the 133rd-richest person in the country. Instead, he’s off The Forbes 400 for the first time in a quarter-century.’

Why did Trump refuse to go the ethical route? Like many of Trump’s business decisions, it centered around his desire to avoid paying taxes. However, even if he had paid the maximum amount in taxes, a maximum amount that was unlikely considering some of the tax breaks he may have been able to get as president, he would still have made money had he done the ethical thing and divested.

‘If he paid the maximum possible capital gains tax—23.8% to the federal government, plus 8.8% to the New York State authorities on every penny he owned—that would have shaved about $1.1 billion off his fortune, leaving him with $2.4 billion on the first day of his presidency. But what would have appeared to be a huge sacrifice at first could have turned into a lucrative realignment. By plowing that $2.4 billion in an index fund tracking the S&P 500, for example, Trump’s fortune would have ballooned to $4.5 billion by now, leaving him 80% richer than he is today. His refusal to divest, in other words, cost him $2 billion.’