My Donald Trump Dream

I had a dream about Republican frontrunner Donald Trump the other night.

Trump and I were in a private meeting, and he wanted my endorsement.

But what the hell is this building a wall with Mexico business?, I asked him. And, in all intellectual honesty, thinking they would pay for it? And banning all Muslims from entering the country?

I asked him about trade. Because on the economic front, Trump is not really a Republican. And if it weren’t for reducing trade barriers and making business easier, I can’t imagine why I would ever vote for a Republican.

And that’s when it happened.

“It’s all bullshit,” Trump told me.

“All of it?” I asked. “The 35% tariff on goods made in Mexico, tossing out free trade agreements, buddying up with Putin …”

“All of it,” Trump confirmed. “I don’t believe any of that. But I have to say it in order to win.”

And I let that sink in for a second.

“OK,” I told him. “But wait, all of it?”

He nodded.

“I’ll back you,” I said, and then I woke up.

But unlike most times when you wake up from a dream and the nonsense is just nonsense and reality is clearly reality, in this case what should be reality was a dream and the nonsense was reality. Not Trump asking for my endorsement of course – that’s nonsense – but the Trump rhetoric. All the horseshit Trump is spouting is not a dream.

I’m pinching myself right now, and he is not just saying it in dreams.

This dream comes at a time when I’m covering Peru’s 2016 elections for Peru Reports. So I’m watching two electoral cycles at the same time, and therefore hearing double the bullshit and never-going-to-happen promises. So saying what it takes to win, whether it be in GOP primaries or a rural Andean village, is at the top of my mind.

Will Trump get the nod?

Many readers have assumed or tried to guess my politics. The truth is, my opinions are pretty boring. The only issues I care strongly about are free trade, neoliberal economics and immigration. Beyond that, I’ll take centrist, pragmatic candidates from either party. In other words, establishment candidates.


So when I saw Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz in prominent positions in the race, I was concerned. Fortunately the Democrats are doing the right thing in nominating Hillary.

But the Republicans are about to commit an epic fuckup. A historic fuckup that threatens the future of the party.

From where I see it, the best-case scenario for Republicans if they nominate Donald Trump is that Hillary Clinton wins the presidency and the Democrats take the Senate, which is only in play if Trump heads the GOP ticket.

Worst-case scenario is the above scenario PLUS the Republican party implodes, breaks apart. One of the two camps under the GOP tent may desert the party.

Camp 1 are the liberal Republicans, centrists and business community. I’m Camp 1, albeit a Camp 1 who will defect to the Democrats with no quims or qualms. Camp 2 are the gun enthusiasts, religious rights and anti-immigration people. The alliance between the two camps has often been shaky, but Trump’s nomination just may bury it. Because I don’t see Camp 1 supporting Trump under any circumstances.

The New Strategy

There has been an interesting twist in the media’s narrative around Trump recently. Journalists are raising the point that Trump could have invested his $40 million inheritance in 1974 in a simple index fund and come out with about the same amount of money as he makes today.

There are flaws to that argument. For example, there were no index funds in 1974. He could not have invested every dollar year in, year out, because he would need something to live on. On the other hand, his businesses have seen four bankruptcies, and plunging stock holdings don’t get the luxury of bankruptcy protection. So maybe the comparison is fair when the flaws are balanced out.

But the underlying point is a pivot in strategy. Most people think of attacking an opponent’s weakness. But another strategy is to attack someone’s strength.

Floyd Mayweather may have been the best boxer of all time. His greatest strength was an impenetrable defense, while his weakness was a lack of power. So most opponents thought to hurt him and compete with power punching, but most opponents can’t lay a hand on him. The strategy doesn’t get off the ground and Mayweather outpoints you with a smile to finish each round.

The closest anybody came to beating Mayweather may have been Marcos Maidana, who attacked Mayweather’s strength. By clinching and throwing odd-angle shots against the ropes and generally fighting a dirty fight — a grind-it-out, ugly FIGHT which did not necessarily adhere to the rules of boxing — Maidana neutralized Mayweather’s defense for many rounds. He attacked his strength.

That’s why Mayweather handpicked the ref for the rematch, and Maidana was exposed as clearly out of his league. But he got a huge payday for the best strategy anybody mounted against Money Mayweather.

Attacking Trump’s weaknesses isn’t working. His policies are a joke. He is saying borderline racist and sexist things in an increasingly politically correct society. And he keeps winning.

It’s time to attack Trump’s strength.

Trump’s strength is that he is perceived as an excellent businessman. Without that perception, what is Trump’s attraction?

So Trump’s personal net worth barely outperformed the stock market over 40 years, so by definition he is not a great businessman. Instead of working his ass off and taking monumental risks with hundreds of millions of dollars, he could have led the life of a playboy, or a philanthropist, or been a simply nice guy.

Trump’s business career features many monumental fuckups. Huge losses and burned creditors. What he has been good at, what has accounted for the bulk of his fortune, is his personal brand. The Trump brand.

Trump’s personal celebrity is his business. The naming rights of Trump buildings he has no interest in whatsoever, and wouldn’t be allowed in. The Apprentice television show.

Trump’s business is nothing like that of a mogul or investor, and much more like that of a Kim Kardashian or Paris Hilton.

That should be the strategy in stopping Donald Trump.

Unfortunately the Trump base may not be the most financially literate bunch. Strategy may not work. This saga may lead to the implosion of one of America’s historic political parties. It would be fun to watch from down here.

End rant. Now have a laugh with the video below.



  1. From Trump’s 1987 book The Art of the Deal:

    “One thing I’ve learned about the press is that they’re always hungry for a good story, and the more sensational the better. It’s in the nature of the job, and I understand that. The point is that if you are a little different, or a little outrageous, or if you do things that are bold or controversial, the press is going to write about you…

    “The funny thing is that even a critical story, which may be hurtful personally, can be very valuable to your business.


    “The other thing I do when I talk with reporters is to be straight. I try not to deceive them or to be defensive, because those are precisely the ways most people get themselves into trouble with the press. Instead, when a reporter asks me a tough question, I try to frame a positive answer, even if that means shifting the ground. For example, if someone asks me what negative effects the world’s tallest building might have on the West Side, I turn the tables and talk about how New Yorkers deserve the world’s tallest building, and what a boost it will give the city to have it again. When a reporter asks why I build only for the rich, I note that the rich aren’t the only ones who benefit from my buildings. I explain that I put thousands of people to work who might otherwise be collecting unemployment, and that I add to the city’s tax base every time I build a new project. I also point out that buildings like Trump Tower have helped spark New York’s renaissance.

    “The final key to the way I promote is bravado. I play to people’s fantasies. People may not always think big themselves, but they can still get very excited by those who do. That’s why a little hyperbole never hurts. People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular.

    “I call it truthful hyperbole. It’s an innocent form of exaggeration – and a very effective form of promotion.


    “Money was never a big motivation for me, except as a way to keep score. The real excitement is playing the game. I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about what I should have done differently, or what’s going to happen next. If you ask me exactly what the deals I’m about to describe all add up to in the end, I’m not sure I have a very good answer. Except that I’ve had a very good time making them.”

    Seems relevant, although I’ve been trying to ignore these political goings-on as much as possible.


  2. The elites of the US, both parties, are determined to have Brasil Norte. The elites live pretty nice in Latin America, but I don’t think these people realize the chaos they are creating, and that they may not be able to keep it outside their expensive neighborhoods. The US can’t take any more immigrants, there is no room. All the cities where there are jobs are massively overcrowded and insanely expensive. There are jobs, but no upward mobility, there is hardly any upward mobility for well-educated people born here. Ideally somebody other than Trump would be pointing this out, but all the others are paid by billionaires.


  3. “Trump’s personal net worth barely outperformed the stock market over 40 years, so by definition he is not a great businessman.”

    This performance actually puts him in the upper tier of stock market investors. Very few outperform the stock market.

    But a better and more accurate assessment of his performance would be to compare his net worth not with the stock market but with how he has performed against some measure of commercial real estate over that 1974 until now period.

    The return of American manufacturing through protectionism is something he very well can pull off, and beyond all his other statements is what scares the ruling elite the most.


  4. I’ve been saying exactly this ever since I saw Trump on the news. Everything he is saying is total bullshit. It is very hard for me to believe that a man that successful (see Jesse’s comment) smart, and educated really believes the things he is saying. He’s a business man and I think he knows exactly what he is doing. In the end even if he doesn’t win, he will have had a priceless amount of free media coverage that he wouldn’t have gotten any other way.

    Your comments on the implosion of the Republican party is more than valid, and I thought the same. Not that I know you in any way, but I thought for sure you would see the value of the right to bear arms, especially after living in Colombia.


  5. @ Jesse and Swole Gringo:

    Respectfully and vehemently disagree with “upper tier,” “successful,” “educated” and “businessman” outside, of course, for the business of celebrity.

    Beating the S&P is a marvelous achievement for security traders, who by definition have very little to lose. Barely beating the market with huge risks worth hundreds of millions of dollars, on the other hand, is awful performance. That’s why he is not a player in the hotel biz, aside from licensing his name of course. If he weren’t famous with an inheritance, banks wouldn’t lend him a nickel.

    People take the big risks of starting a business to do better than the safe but meager returns of the stock market. If I were to do an analysis of my herbal supplements business, it would have a growth rate of 75% compounded annually. That’s what justifies putting money on the line which could result in a total loss, which happened to Trump four times.

    But when equities go to zero or bonds default, investors can’t declare bankruptcy as Trump has done four times.

    To make a single-digit return while taking huge risks, it is exceedingly fair to say he never should have tried his hand at hotels or anything outside of the celebrity business, which ironically he ultimately needed hotels for. However that doesn’t make him good at real estate, hotels, food/liquor, education or anything except celebrity.

    And that is why it is no coincidence that the business community will be backing Hillary in 2016.

    “I’m not a shrewd businessman, but I play one on TV.” — Donald Drumpf


  6. A small investment in a small biz can turn a 75% growth rate, but try to do the same with hundreds of millions or a billion dollars and you will discover there is no scaleability. Try to put a billion dollars into the stock market and you’ll find yourseld bidding against yourself. Its tough as hell to generate outsize returns with big money. That is why top hedge fund managers close their funds to new money despite the 2%+ they might take off the top. When youre too big you move markets.

    As I wrote previously Trump needs to be evaluated against some measure of performance for commercial real estate over that period of time, not the S&P.

    Who cares about the bankruptcies? The law provides that out. Bad trades/investments happen to guys who put themselves out there. Smartly, he now invests with other peoples money. He will get Mexico to pay for that very tall wall.


  7. Comparing to the return on real estate would make almost anything aside from retail savings accounts look good. The truly fair comparison would be private equity funds. Bain Capital, launched by a real business mogul in Mitt Romney, started with $37 million in 1984 and the fund had $75 billion in 2015 for 29% annual growth.

    Multiple bankruptcies and bad trades happen to guys who are ultimately not cut out for big business. But reality TV is a great way to go for those who flunk out. Imagine somebody successful in private equity doing 14 years of a reality TV show. It wouldn’t happen, not worth his time.

    The day Mexico pays for a wall along the border with the United States, I will put a “Donald Trump: Make America Great Again” large banner ad on the blog, and it will stay there as long as the Mexican-financed wall stands.


  8. Colin, I’m not sure if you’re for him or against him, but the lines are clear. If you want more muslim neighbors, vote for Billary. As for the wall, a wall is not really a good idea, except in the heavily populated areas. I have a better idea: Use our military to protect our borders. That used to be the reason to have a military. I’m paying good money for guns and tanks, bring them home from Germany and Japan and Korea. I’ve got a job for them to do in Laredo. I’m not opposed to using live ammo either. They can fire some warning shots and the illegals probably scamper back across the border. And stop the H1B visas. Enough already. Bill Gates doesn’t need another 10 billion dollars.


  9. Hindsight is 20/20. To think that Trump is not a good businessman ’cause he did not outperformed the stock market is a strawman argument. The stock market could have performed badly in that time. So what? Donald still made his millions regardless. Further, one who invest in the stock market is NOT a businessman, but is an invester. An invester gives money to a business (or business person) who will then try to turn a profit. Trump inherited some money, but he did good with it and made it grow. Plenty of people have inherited money or won lotteries and have nothing to show for it. It’s wrong to dismiss the celebrity branding business as not being worthy of respect. It’s a business like any other, where you have to satisfy your customers or fail. I’d imagine it’s not an easy one. Donald Trump has NEVER declared personal bakrupcy, though some of his business have declared banrupcy. It’s just a business strategy. You win some, you lose some.


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