|Udo J. Keppler, May 1901, caricature of J. Pierpont Morgan as a bubble-blowing bull, via 4closurefraud.org.|
It’s unclear what his per-episode fee is, but it is likely to be in the low five-figures, at minimum. NBC has ordered eight episodes of “The New Celebrity Apprentice.” Trump’s fees will be paid through MGM, the production entity on the show, not NBC.... Trump is also a profit participant on the “Apprentice” franchise, which has been sold as a format in various markets around the world since it first became a hit on NBC in 2004.Between that startling news, and the recently reported tale that he sold all his stock holdings six months ago, as much as $38 million worth (if he actually did, which can't of course be verified), and the fact that he seems determined not to divest himself of his businesses, Josh Marshall has come up with the compelling hypothesis that he can't divest himself of his businesses
because he's too underwater to do so or more likely he's too dependent on current and expanding cash flow to divest or even turn the reins over to someone else....
A heavily leveraged business, one that is indebted and dependent on cash flow to keep everything moving forward, can be kind of like a shark. It has to keep moving forward or it dies.
Perhaps Trump simply doesn't feel like he can trust anyone else to keep the whole shambling enterprise afloat. More plausibly, and consistent with Trump's history over the last couple decades, Trump's business is dependent on an ever expanding number of deals not just to grow but to stay afloat at all. It is certainly plausible that if Trump simply sold off his companyin toto, he'd be in debt. Maybe there wouldn't be anything left to put in a blind trust.Why did he sell all his stocks? He told Matt Lauer yesterday that he sold off the stock because he knew back in June that he was going to win and he wanted to avoid conflicts of interest, which seems pretty odd now that he actually has won and is unwilling to avoid the much more serious conflicts and much higher dollar figures that come with his real estate holdings and branding deals. And how did he feel about paying the capital gains tax on a $38-million sale of shares, given how he feels about that shit? As Haberman and Becker put it in last night's article, he doesn't even want to contemplate having to pay some four or eight years from now:
At least part of Mr. Trump’s reluctance to sell off his holdings stems from tax liability concerns, according to a person briefed on the plan. Government officials can defer capital gains taxes on assets they sell to avoid conflicts, providing they reinvest the money in government securities or certain approved mutual funds. But the bill comes due if those assets are sold after a person leaves office.Marshall's best hypothesis is that he sold them to help pay himself back the $50-million loan he had made to his campaign:
Over the course of the spring, as it became increasingly likely he'd be the nominee, that loan became increasingly conspicuous. Donors were wary of donating big money because they didn't want him to use it to pay himself back for that loan. Many suggested that he might not actually be able to part with that money. It became a big issue and Trump refused to forgive the loans. It was only in June that Trump finally gave in and forgave the loan; this was confirmed in the June FEC disclosure that came out in late July.And if he's that illiquid, people, how does he feel about the $25 million he was just assessed to settle the lawsuits in the Trump University scam?
And if it's that kind of business that needs a constantly expanding cash flow or it dies, isn't that a kind of working extrinsic definition of a Ponzi scheme, and could we look forward to it blowing up on him any time soon? That would be a lot of fun. Donald, you're fired.