… by Ian Greenhalgh
Way back in April 2016, I published an article explaining how Donald Trump would use the classic mobster tactics of ‘pump and dump’ to ‘bust out’ the US economy:
Sad to say it, but I was right, and the process is well underway. This is what the supposed trade war with China is all about – why Trump announced a range of tariffs on Chinese goods that had everyone aghast at the potential damage they would wreak on the US economy.
The markets lost hundreds of points overnight, many stocks plummeted in value. Now Trump’s cronies like Jared Kushner and Sheldon Adelson will buy up these stocks at their current low value.
Eventually Trump will announce he isn’t introducing tariffs and there will be no trade war; the markets will recover, the stocks will rise in value and Trump’s cronies will sell them off and pocket a few billion in profits.
When you have a puppet president who can knock 3 or 400 points off the Dow Jones with a single Tweet, then it makes stock market profiteering all too easy.
… by Ian Greenhalgh
first published 8th April, 2016
A “bust out” is a common tactic in the organized crime world, wherein a business’ assets and lines of credit are exploited and exhausted to the point of bankruptcy.
Mark Galeotti, a New York University professor and one of the leading experts in transnational organized crime, described the familiar tactic:
“It’s one of the classic tactics of organized crime. You exploit it as far as you can and when you have essentially squeezed every possible bit of value out of it, you burn it. In organized crime’s case, I mean that literally, whereas with private equity, it’s planned bankruptcy. But essentially you dispose of it in as convenient a way as possible, and then you walk away.”
This squeeze and burn tactic has been dramatized both by “The Sopranos” and the film “Goodfellas,” where mobsters take control of companies and run up their credit.
In The Sopranos, the hapless victim, a man with a healthy sporting goods store and a corrosive gambling addiction, asks Soprano how the process will end, the fictional mob boss is ready with a precise answer.
“Planned bankruptcy,” Soprano tells him.
In the organized crime world, the business practice relies on the threat of physical violence. A group of investors — in Soprano’s case, an entire family — looks for companies that have a strong underlying business but are in distress thanks to heavy debt burdens. The investors then take over the company. In the mob’s case, the family presents the business with a very high-interest loan — an offer which, under the financial circumstances, is difficult to refuse — and effectively takes control of the company. Private equity investors, by contrast, buy control of the company’s board by purchasing the firm’s stock. But for both private equity firms and the mafia, investors use their control of the firm to take on more debt, while at the same time cutting costs by laying off workers.
How is it, exactly, that an investor can make millions even as the company he’s ostensibly trying to turn around goes bust?
The investors profit, it turns out, not despite the failure of the company, but in fact because of it.
Cash from the loans and cost savings are funneled back to the investors. This looting continues until the company can’t pay its debts. When it finally collapses, the company files for bankruptcy to extinguish the debt — but private equity investors, as well as mobsters, get to keep the gains they’ve already reaped.
The difference between the mafia ‘bust out’ and the corporate Chapter 11 bankruptcy scam is largely one of scale; both however are examples of the same organised crime tactic.
The Don and his four bankrupt businesses
Which brings us to Donald Trump, who has been trumpeting loudly during this election campaign that he has never been bankrupt.
This is perfectly correct, Donald Trump has never personally been bankrupt; however, he has had four major businesses that did indeed fail and file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
The Vanity Fair article 4 Times Donald Trump’s Companies Declared Bankruptcy by Bryan Hood lists Trump’s four big bust-outs:
Still, since 1991, Trump-related companies have filed for corporate bankruptcy four separate times. Filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy allows a corporation—which is legally distinct of its shareholders, owners, board, and C.E.O.—to stay in business while it re-structures and attempts to reduce its debt. So, while he’s been able to keep his personal finances in order, the businesses that so proudly trumpet his billion-dollar name are something of a different story. In preparation for Trump’s time on the national stage, here’s a closer look at those filings.
1991, Trump’s Taj Mahal in Atlantic City
This is the one where The Donald’s fortune was actually in any danger. After financing much of the construction of the casino with junk bonds, the luxe facility was in debt, and so was he. (Exactly how much is up for debate; the Times pegged his personal liabilities at $900 million.) In order to escape potential doom, Trump’s corporation filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which allowed him to reorganize the debt while the casino remained open. The real-estate tycoon ended up taking a substantial hit this time, as he was forced to relinquish half his stake in the casino and sell his yacht and airline to pay back loans.
1992, Trump Plaza Hotel in Atlantic City
In his second swing at bankruptcy, Trump was able to insulate himself from any real harm, for the most part. This time it was the Trump Plaza Hotel that was hemorrhaging cash, having lost over $550 million. Ever the negotiator, the entrepreneur agreed to give up a 49 percent stake in the hotel to Citibank and other lenders, according to ABC News. In exchange, he received more favorable repayment terms on the debt. The celebrity developer also managed to hold onto his C.E.O. title, even though it meant giving up his salary and any role in the day-to-day operation of the hotel.
2004, Trump Hotels and Casinos Resorts
Just over a decade later, a Trump corporation was filing for Chapter 11 yet again. With the company nearly $1.8 billion dollars in debt, the businessman was back to making deals, this time agreeing to reduce his stake in the company to about 25 percent in exchange for lower interest rates and a new loan, the Associated Press reported at the time. The move meant that Trump surrendered much of his control in the company, but considering what had been going on under his watch, that was probably a good thing. (Time magazine claims Trump was also forced to pump $72 million of his own money into the company to keep it going.)
2009, Trump Entertainment Resorts
In his most recent dalliance with bankruptcy, Trump’s company declared Chapter 11 after missing a $53.1 million bond interest payment. Trump and the rest of the board of directors could not reach an agreement over whether or not to file for bankruptcy, resulting in his resignation as head of the board, Reuters reported at the time. The move also saw his stake in the company reduced even further on what Trump called a now “worthless” investment that he assured was less than a percent of his net worth.
So, it’s hard to deny that Trump’s personal finances are in great shape (although maybe not quite as good as he thinks), but his corporate track record is a little more . . . mixed. And that brand, which he’s assiduously attached to his projects, has occasionally come back to haunt him. Although he no longer has any involvement with the casino, Trump’s Taj Mahal filed for bankruptcy again in September of last year—leaving thousands of jobs to disappear into the coastal New Jersey air. The Donald’s reaction? He immediately reminded everyone, while self-congratulating his foresight, that he had pulled out of both the casino and Atlantic City years ago.
Why does Trump employ the tactics of organised crime?
It is pretty plain to see that Trump has been a serial user of the ‘bust out’; no doubt he owes a substantial portion of his personal wealth to this tactic.
But why is Donald Trump so familiar with the tactics of organised crime?
Is it because he’s a big fan of mob movies?
Maybe he has mob acquaintances from whom he learned of the tactic while socialising in some Manhattan nightspot?
The answer is both simple and disturbing – Donald Trump is familiar with and employs the techniques of organised crime because he is a member of the mob; not the Italian-American mafia of Hollywood, that is a smoke screen. Trump is a member of the real mob, the crime cabal that long ago ‘went legit’ and moved from small scale racketeering into the world of corporate big business and high finance.
They replaced footsoldiers and hitmen with accountants and lawyers and learned to operate at the highest levels of business and finance. However, they have not forgotten their roots nor the tactics of the criminal underworld they came from.
In Donald Trump and his ‘bust outs’ we see those tactics in operation. Don’t be naive and think that if he were to win the Presidential race that he wouldn’t employ the same tactic again only this time on the grand scale of an entire nation and it will be the entire United States of America that is squeezed for every drop of profit before being burned down to hide the crime.