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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Pundit of the year: Dilbert creator, Scott Adams



The best thing about Donald Trump's domination of the American political scene this year is that he has stumped every pundit in the land (save one). I am a fan of many of these big boys in Washington. I watch them on Fox News with awe.

But man, did they blow this one. The herd mentality in Washington has turned them into lemmings going off the cliff.

The only pundit of any renown to figure The Donald out was Scott Adams, the creator of the Dilbert comic strip. Since August, he has blogged about how The Donald is winning and spinning heads on TV.

On August 13, 2015, Scott Adams wrote:
Like many of you, I have been entertained by the unstoppable clown car that is Donald Trump. On the surface, and several layers deep as well, Trump appears to be a narcissistic blow-hard with inadequate credentials to lead a country.
The only problem with my analysis is that there is an eerie consistency to his success so far. Is there a method to it? Is there some sort of system at work under the hood?
Probably yes. Allow me to describe some of the hypnosis and persuasion methods Mr. Trump has employed on you. (Most of you know I am a trained hypnotist and this topic is a hobby of mine.)
For starters, Trump literally wrote the book on negotiating, called The Art of the Deal.
So we know he is familiar with the finer points of persuasion. For our purposes today, persuasion, hypnosis, and negotiating all share a common set of tools, so I will conflate them. 
Would Trump use his negotiation and persuasion skills in the campaign? Of course he would. And we expect him to do just that. 
But where is the smoking gun of his persuasion? Where is his technique laid out for us to see.
Everywhere. 
Scott Adams then gave several examples. One was Trump's personal wealth, which Trump said is $10 billion. His detractors say aha! He is "only" worth $2.6 billion.

Only?

Scott Adams explained why Trump attacked Rosie O'Donnell (an old favorite feud of his):
And what did you think of Trump’s famous “Rosie O’Donnell” quip at the first debate when asked about his comments on women? The interviewer’s questions were intended to paint Trump forever as a sexist pig. But Trump quickly and cleverly set the “anchor” as Rosie O’Donnell, a name he could be sure was not popular with his core Republican crowd. And then he casually admitted, without hesitation, that he was sure he had said other bad things about other people as well.
So what Trump is doing is setting himself to be attacked on his own terms. He made the choice between him and her. In order to attack him, you have to side with Rosie O'Donnell.

There was this Scott Adams insight:
Trump also said he thinks Mexico should pay for the fence, which made most people scoff. But if your neighbor’s pit bull keeps escaping and eating your rosebushes, you tell the neighbor to pay for his own fence or you will shoot his dog next time you see it. Telling a neighbor to build his own wall for your benefit is not crazy talk. And I actually think Trump could pull it off.
This is great punditry. Adams did his homework. He read Trump's books. He looked at the broad picture.

Trump thinks in three dimensions, according to Adams. As does Adams. Trump's critics are stuck in two dimensions. Every situation is either/or. The pundits on TV talk among themselves and when something happens outside the little box they've placed themselves in, they freak. Attacking Rosie O'Donnell didn't foul Trump out? The only logical explanation for this is that Trump's supporters are stupid.

And sexist. And racist. After all, most of them are white and don't have college degrees. Never mind that most Americans are white (75%) and most Americans do not have a college degree (75%). It never occurs to the wizards of cable TV that not everyone has a college degree. When I call Mullens to fix the furnace (or hot water heater or AC or plumbing) I do not want someone with a college degree; I want someone who can fix the problem with competence. They make good wages. But the pundits on TV have talked themselves into thinking that if you do not have a college degree, you must be stupid.

Adams rejects all that, instead looking at Trump as a salesman. Successful politicians are good salesmen. Pundits call them communicators, but they are all Willy Lomans, judged by the shine on their shoe and the smile on their face.

In October, while the TV pundits were yakking about Peak Trump and how Ben Carson was surging ahead of Trump in Iowa, Adams predicted a Trump landslide in the general election.

On October 23, 2015, Scott Adams wrote: "The latest poll out of Iowa shows Carson ahead of Trump. And you know what that means? It means Iowa is about to become irrelevant."

Irrelevant? From Scott Adams:
A lot of things became irrelevant this election cycle.
Old-guard Republican leadership became irrelevant after Trump emerged and rewrote the platform. Boehner literally quit and ran away. 
The Huffington Post moved Trump to the entertainment section and sealed their reputation as a useless wart on society. 
We all got to watch Trump domesticate FOX News, CNN,  and now CNBC. If Trump wins the presidency, every pollster and every pundit (except me) is wrong to the point of irrelevancy. 
Hillary Clinton joined the bandwagon of destruction by declaring her gender an important selling point for a job, thus leaving both her candidacy and the reputation of modern feminism in tatters.
I assume none of you saw any of that coming. And now you don’t believe Trump can win in a landslide. I will make that case over the next few blog posts. It will be more fun to watch the tumblers fall into place in slow motion. 
Donald Trump has succeeded in making this election a referendum on Donald Trump. The president gave only his third prime-time speech following the San Bernardino massacre. Trump subsequently issued a two-paragraph press release and everyone was talking about that.

Why? Because Trump said the obvious: Stop Muslim immigration until we can figure out who is a terrorist and who is not a terrorist.

And who figured this out? Charles Krauthammer? George Will? Bill O'Reilly? Satan's sister er, Kathleen Parker?

No, the dude who draws a comic strip about an engineer frustrated by the bureaucracy figured it out. He did so not by attending the right parties or talking to the same sources, but by reading and observing. Instead of wasting time coming up with new insults to hurl at Trump supporters, Adams thought about how Trump was winning.

Drawing a cartoon is difficult, but drawing a conclusion is easy. Why then cannot men and women of such great depth of experience all fail down like this? What applies in science applies in politics.
"It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are. If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong." --- Richard P. Feynman.
Scott Adams gets what is going on and is having a lot of fun with this.

On December 9, 2015, Scott Adams wrote, "My Offer to Stop Donald Trump."
The proposition is that the public can pledge any amount of money to a crowdfunding site to activate my persuasion skills to stop Donald Trump. Each person might only pledge $10, so no big risk involved. If Trump loses in the general election, I get the full $1 billion for my efforts, EVEN IF YOU THINK MY EFFORTS MADE NO DIFFERENCE. That last part is important because the public would not see my fingerprints on anything. The press would report that people simply tired of Trump’s act, or maybe some future gaffe would be credited with his downfall. But that would not necessarily be the real story. Then, as now, the public and the media see Trump as a 2D player. I see him as a 3D player who manages your emotions, not your sense of reason. If I do the same, my technique will be as invisible as Trump’s.
If I fail, and Trump wins, the payout would not be triggered, and I get nothing. And if the crowdfunding pledges never reach the full $1 billion, I would do nothing at all but continue to report on Trump as I have been doing, as objectively as I can. 
Brilliant. It is now implanted in people's mind that the only person who can stop Donald Trump will not do so unless he gets ONE BEELYUN DOLLAHS,

Equally brilliant was the explanation by Scott Adams on December 24, 2015, of that whole schlonged nonsense:
1. Schlonged has just enough deniability built into it (similar to saying someone “sucks”) that Trump could almost-sort-of-but-not-quite explain it away. That “almost-but-not quite” quality makes it news. That is precisely how one would engineer a sticky story. A future president (and potential role model) who uses vulgar terms is a “man bites dog” story with just the right amount of “maybe not” to keep people jabbering.
2. Schlonged has what I call the “Osso Bucco effect.“ When you hear about a pork dish called osso bucco, you have to repeat its name several times in your head. You almost can’t resist. Same with schlonged. That looks engineered to me. In hypnosis, this is a variant of the O.J. defense “If the glove fits, you must acquit.” The science of persuasion says a rhyme is more persuasive than a non-rhyme, probably because you repeat it several times in your head, like schlonged.
3. A strong majority of humans love schlongs. Men love schlongs because we have them. Lots of women like them too. Schlongs are not politically correct, but when it comes to popular body parts, they are in the top two. From a rational perspective, using a vulgar-sounding expression is a mistake. But the Master Persuader filter only cares about the reflexive associations you make in your mind. And on the reflex level, schlongs are a base-clearing home run. 
4. Schlongs also make you think of Bill Clinton and how hard Hillary must have tried to get a lock on his schlong. That doesn’t help her.
I do not know all that hypnosis stuff. But I do know the media stuff (and everyone does; it is easy). Trump plays the media like Casals played the cello -- he just strings them along. Every time they think they got him, he gets them. To many people, the political media in America has become a cartoon villain, which by default makes Donald Trump a superhero.

Scott Adams sees the tumblers falling into place and unlocking the future. It does not matter if you like that future or not. It is what it is, and he is who he is. He got the presidential race right in 2015. He alone. That makes him Pundit of the Year.

55 comments:

  1. That's scary. Is the skill inate, or can a regular politician be trained?

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    1. Obama is hiding a dark secret that just came out and this effects you!
      http://tinyurl.com/hakdxre

      Delete
  2. It is a learned skill. But it helps to be smart, thick-skinned, and a few other things on top.

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    1. Rich. The Democratic Propaganda media separates candidates from their funders. Can't do that with Trump. He likes himself too much. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

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    2. Does it mean he's a sociopath, removed from emotions so he can manipulate without guilt? Or is this what successful people do that separates them from us schmucks?

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  3. Well now. Sensible analysis for a change.

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  4. You know when Our Don has Scott Adams on his side, a guy might think Our Don is In Like Flynn. Just think Don "Errol" Surber. (Maybe not to Mrs. Surber, though,)

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  5. "Brilliant. It is now implanted in people's mind that the only person who can stop Donald Trump will not do so unless he gets ONE BEELYUN DOLLAHS"

    It's even more brilliant than you wrote. It's a challenge to people who call Trump a clown to put their money where their mouths are, a challenge to put up or shut up. That's what The Donald would do (WWTDD?).

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    1. You are absolutely right. I went back and re-read it.

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  6. (1) Donald Trump has been selling himself, and persuading people to back him since the 1970's.

    (2) Most great campaigns are emotionally driven. "Hope and Change", "I Like Ike", "Morning in America", "Happy Days Are Here Again", "Return to Normalcy", etc.

    (3) Did I mention how Donald Trump has a lot of experience selling himself to people? That has been his biggest asset, himself.

    -Mikey NTH

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  7. Great post. I've also enjoyed reading what I have of Scott's. I would add this: The vulgar trick only works in this very recent era.

    Microaggressions made this all possible. I hate them, I hate the speech codes, I hate everything about political correctness. I hate that rap music says things I can't. I hate it when misogynist Hillary claims she stands for women's rights. I hate it all.

    I've always thought it was all a house of cards and all we needed to do to blow it down was speak plainly and clearly over and over again. I loved the "schlonged" comment for just that reason.

    That last comment and his return fire where he said what we were all thinking - Hillary as a feminist is like Goebbels as a Rabbi - was marvelous and it portends truly glorious things to come. A debate between the two would be pay-per-view worthy just to see the queen of the PC movement get obliterated by a guy who sounds like he drives a cab.

    I know that my reaction has become emotional, but I don't care. I hate all of these speech and behavior codes that much. I don't really care what his policies are any more - mostly because I don't think the other Republicans are saying anything important. We're in the same fiscal boat as Greece, just a bit farther away from the waterfall and everyone's talking about immigration or no fly zones.

    So what difference does it make who I vote for? $60K debt/person is going to become $70K is going to become $80K is going to become a monster, global currency crisis. I might as well vote for the cab driver so I can finally be free of speech codes.

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    1. Perhaps the Donald is in the race because
      he too sees the monster approaching. (VVV)

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    2. "A debate between the two would be pay-per-view worthy just to see the queen of the PC movement get obliterated"

      The presidential debates between Trump and Frump will be like the Thrilla in Manila. She won't be able to leave her corner for the 15th(!!!) debate. She will be like Joe Frazier, bloodied and nearly blind. Bill will have to throw in the towel out of mercy. It will be a TKO for Trump. He will end the debates with not a mark on his pretty-boy face because he "floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee."

      BTW, who said the following? "He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life." Did you automatically guess Trump? Wrong! It was actually the winner of the Thrilla in Manila.

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    3. I do not believe that there's any intention to pay the debt. NONE. Prove me wrong.

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    4. I do not believe that there's any intention to pay the debt. NONE. Prove me wrong.

      Delete
  8. Milo at Breitbart called this in June:
    If you’re going to turn your presidential selection process into a reality show, don’t be surprised when reality stars show up demanding to take part. If you build it, Trump will come. Then he’ll build it again, eleven stories higher, and put his name on it in gold lettering.

    http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/06/19/donald-trump-king-of-trolling-his-critics-should-be-the-internets-choice-for-president/

    Good or bad, the election cycle has become a media show, and Trump has mastered self-promotion.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  9. "He did so not by attending the right parties or talking to the same sources, but by reading and observing. Instead of wasting time coming up with new insults to hurl at Trump supporters, Adams thought about how Trump was winning."

    After the section on the college bias of the pundits, I get to that quoted above and it occurs to me that, in the past, college taught students how to read, observe and think about a topic and how to avoid groupthink and source bias.

    Guess it didn't stick for the "intellectuals" we have now. So who's the ignorant rubes?

    "Usage: Education, properly a drawing forth, implies not so much the communication of knowledge as the discipline of the intellect, the establishment of the principles, and the regulation of the heart."

    One might wonder just how "educated" the pundits are these days.

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  10. I've been following Scott's Master Persuader posts, too. I can't find anything that explains the Trump phenomenon any better. - Elric

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  11. Trump IS a GREAT salesman. My question, Don, is do you TRUST a used car salesman? I don't, not even the ones I know well and like. What IMHO you and other Trump admirers are forgetting is how he has bamboozled others into backing projects on which he later declared bankruptcy and came out smelling like a rose.

    A great salesman with no morals or scruples will cut your throat to make a sale and a profit. I know a man who built a $600 million a year company mainly on his sales ability. I would also risk everything I own or ever will own on that man's handshake. I also know a man who has built a used car business that now supports 3 families. I wouldn't risk a plugged nickel on his word.

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    1. Mr. Howell, you are correct as far as the American people are concerned. But we already have a President who acts exactly as you predict Trump will. Look into Solyndra as just one example of what you complain about. Now, apply your analysis to what Trump will do to foreign leaders. Then re-read that bit about Mexico building the border wall. Millions of Americans are praying for a President who screws foreigners instead of letting them schlong us all the time.

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    2. Trump is not the only one. Billionaires use the bankruptcy code as a tool.

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    3. Trump is not the only one. Billionaires use the bankruptcy code as a tool.

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    4. But "business" people who *go into* business deals *planning* to default, are not people who you should want to go into business with - because they will look to *intentionally* screw you over from every possible angle, every day.

      Re Trump - given his 4 mega bankruptcy business record I'm concerned that he i) would have a staged collapse in order to throw the general election to Hillary (in bed from the beginning?) or, who the hell knows, ii) sell 50 million Americans to the Chinese as "comfort women" in order to buy back some of our massive debt.

      The guy is very unpredictable and has proven himself untrustworthy many times.

      Ask his legion of ripped off creditors.

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    5. Mitt Romney filed bankruptcy 17 times yet you guys consider him a paragon of virtue.

      http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052970204331304577140850713493694

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    6. Chapter 11 bankruptcy is part of the business cycle. You should not give lenders a free pass. It is a bad habit. Project loans are generally made 75:25 debt to equity (or thereabouts). If a project cannot generate cash enough to maintain / repay its debt, chapter 11 allows a rejiggering of the accounts of the borrower on an upfront known basis (except for those shady GM and Chrysler events). Usually, the 25% equity is wiped out and the banks get the collateral / paid out. Not being able to see the future or wrongly assuming success of a project in the volatile hospitality / gaming sector is not dishonest in any way. To suggest this is canard and displays ignorance. Losing millions of investment dollars (25%) and the project cannot correctly be described as smelling like a rose.

      Delete
  12. Osso Bucco is veal shank, not pork. What else does Mr. Adams get wrong?

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    1. It is also pork http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/robert-irvine/pork-osso-bucco-recipe.html

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    2. that's going to leave a mark.......

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    3. I don't agree with Larry's anti-Trump/Adams' critique quip but pork osso bucco is kinda like saying 'vegetarian chili' is real chili. :)
      /andycanuck

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  13. MY Crystal ball presented these to me:

    IF TRUMP gets the GOP nomination:

    1. On the Hildabeast -

    1. He will kick Shrillary to the curb with the rest of the garbage. It will be delicious to watch. She will be shredded, it won't be pretty. SHE KNOWS THIS!
    2. Hence her heavy dependence on her “flappers” and Jack, Jim and Johnny.

    So,

    No. 2 Donald will probably win the election.

    He will never take office. He WILL BE ASSASSINATED before hand.

    THEREFORE: who will the Donald select for Veep? I am not a constitutional scholar – though I play one on television: Question- Does the Veep become the Pres if said elected Prez dies before taking office? Legal’s please inform me. Is it in the constitution? Or a fantasy of an executive order?

    No. 3. There will be assassinations of several important people next year by explosive drones.

    No. 4 The Pope is at the top of the hit list.

    No. 5 Buy stock in popcorn and hard liquor.

    Ray-Bert

    PS crystal ball rentals are available. Pre selected channels of wisdom offered at slight upcharge. If you break, damage or steal the crystal ball you have rented The Evil Legion of Doom will be given your scent to hunt down and kill you – in your sleep, on Halloween. (Thanks to VxPo for the hit on this one).

    /sarc off

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  14. Larry L, What else does he get wrong? How about "if the glove fits you must acquit." I remember it as "if the glove doesn't fit you must acquit. Am I wrong??

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  15. "Donald Trump... appears to be a narcissistic blow-hard with inadequate credentials to lead a country." Yes, he is.

    But that didn't stop Obama, who is a sociopathic grifter besides. And Trump, at least, has the best interests of our country at heart -- something that cannot be said of our own homegrown Mussolini for Morons.

    So Trump has pluses and minuses (OK, BIG minuses). You pays yer money and you takes yer chances.

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  16. "Schlonged has just enough deniability built into it. . .that Trump could almost-sort-of-but-not-quite explain it away."

    That's the old concept of "plausible deniability."

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  17. I think there's a simpler explanation, one which doesn't require Trump to be some kind of genius (which he isn't...yes, he's rich, but capital invested in his ventures has significantly under-performed the broader market).

    From "the science is settled" climatistas, to the Bush administration's decision to meekly take it on the chin from the media for 8 years, to the insane politically correct speech codes on campus, to now 7 years of polarizing, demonizing, Alinsky tactics from the White House, the Right has been relentlessly bullied by the Left.

    Few people mature much, intellectually or culturally, beyond 5th grade, so look at Trump through that lens. What happened, on the elementary school yard, when a bully plies his trade? Kids scramble to find another bully that has the common enemy. He doesn't need to be a good guy. He doesn't need to be a friend. Just someone loud enough, and brave enough, to fight back...and everyone loves a good fight.

    That's Trump, a smash-mouth bully...the anti-weak-kneed "Jeb!" And, coincidentally, someone that literally (literally Mr. Vice President!) speaks with a 5th grade vocabulary.

    I thought Mr. Adams' analysis was interesting, but in much the same way I thought a literary theory class in college was interesting -- you can interpret a text using many different frameworks and write very long, analytical papers on them...none of which were remotely contemplated by the original author. Sometimes The Bear really is just about a bear.

    As for Adams' billion dollar wager, that strikes me as little more than a witch-doctor's gambit. He's betting on causing an already highly likely event happening, which he claims he would bring about with mystical -- even imperceptible! -- powers. If things shake out that way, he wins big. If they don't, what's the downside, exactly? It's hardly necessary, because attention spans are short, but if Trump miraculously won and he miraculously raised the billion to trigger the bet and if he really wanted to try to paper over his witch doctor reputation for future gambits, there are an infinite number of ex-post rationalizations that could be employed.

    (And, yes, Trump losing a democratic election given his 60%+ disapproval rating is a likely event)

    So, no, I don't think Trump is some kind of extra dimensional genius. Having grown up there, I can say he talks like a typical east coast bully, a style that's successfully evolved over many generations within the NYC pressure cooker. And, it hits a primal nerve for a bullied class. Nothing more, nothing less.

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    1. "capital invested in his ventures has significantly under-performed the broader market"

      I challenge you to show me someone who made anywhere from 2.6 billion to 10 billion by investing in a mutual fund. In fact, most financial guys will tell you that the really rich guys they see generally made their money from Real Estate.

      More importantly, Fred Trump didn't die until 1991. I would argue that comparing Trump's performance to that of Wall Street is dead wrong.

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    2. It's irrelevant when Fred died.

      The Donald was put in charge of slumlord daddy's operation in 1974, which was worth 200 million at the time.

      The S&P, dividends reinvested, from then returned 9860%. That would be 20B in 2015. The Donald's share, 1/5, would be 4B, which is about twice what he's actually worth (even though, as the piece says, he embellishes that to 10B).

      And, that would have been accomplished without any cronyism, being sued by HUD for ethical issues, etc.

      Delete
    3. "The simplest version of the comparison seems to be that if Trump had taken his $40 million inheritance from his father in 1974, converted it into cash, and invested it in the S&P 500, reinvesting all dividends and spending no money along the way, he'd have about $2.3 billion or so today, depending on how you do the math. Bloomberg computes his actual net worth as $2.9 billion, so he's modestly outperformed the S&P over his career, again depending on how you do the math. That, however, understates his performance. For one thing, if he put all his money in index funds and reinvested all the dividends for 41 years, he'd be dead, because you can't buy food with reinvested dividends. As an investing strategy you can't beat compound returns, but as a strategy for life food has key diversification benefits. Also I feel like Trump has unusually high consumption expenses? For instance, to choose one item at random, I gather that he is currently funding his own campaign for president. That would also eat into his returns.

      The public valuations of Trump's assets may also not be quite apples-to-apples with a market value of the S&P 500. Bloomberg's computation of Trump's net worth basically takes the value of his buildings and golf courses; it "doesn’t value Trump’s brand beyond accounting for cash held in accounts for his licensing deals and business partnerships." But of course the value of the S&P 500 doesn't come from the value of its cash and buildings. It comes from expectations of future earnings. Trump claims that he's worth more than $10 billion because of the value of his brand, which "goes up and down with markets and with attitudes and with feelings, even my own feelings." That sounds silly when Trump says it about himself, but it is dead right about the S&P, which has had a whole lot of feelings recently. But ultimately its value comes from its claim on earnings, and the S&P price/earnings ratio is about 19.6. Just for laughs, put that multiple on Trump's $300-million-ish of income and you get an organization worth about $6 billion.

      http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-09-03/should-donald-trump-have-indexed-

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    4. I'm not sure how he's "doing the math". I took that 40M and applied the S&P's total return and got 4B.

      The point about food is silly -- he'd still have plenty of pocket change to consume and still come out ahead (it's not easy to spend 1B on 100% consumed assets). And, as far as I've heard, he hasn't spent much on his campaign at all, but if it's really that important, I'll backdate my claim to before he launched.

      The broader original point, which I still think is still valid, is that Trump started with a lot. He didn't build an empire, he managed one. Was he exceptionally good at doing that? No. I don't think by any standard you can say he was a genius at it.

      I used the S&P as a benchmark, because that's a common, passive, broad, vehicle that would have required zero knowledge or effort. The wealthy should be able to do much better than that. And, the best benchmark for my point would be what acknowledged geniuses did over the same period.

      40M invested in 1974, with Buffet's returns, would be 120B. Is that a fair comparison? Probably not, but hey, genius is a tough weight class to fight in.

      Delete
  18. I see him as a 3D player who manages your emotions. Perhaps ,more correctly, he responds to America's frustrated emotions.
    Should we vote for him? When you need a cab and there's only a rickshaw around, you take the rickshaw.

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  19. The point about food is not silly. His investment was his real estate company. He took a substantial amount of money out of his real estate company to live a rather opulent lifestyle. For an apples-to-apples comparison, that should also be factored in.

    Furthermore, investing in an index fund means you realize dividend and capital gains income annually. You have no control over when it is recognized like you do when you run your own business.

    Bottom line: You said he should have gotten to $4 billion and applying an S&P multiple values his business at $6 billion. I'd say he did pretty well.

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    1. C'mon, for real? The point about food was *obviously* silly. (As, now, is this thread).

      How much food do you think a person is capable of eating? And, not just food, but all fully consumed assets? (If he buys an opulent yacht, that still has intrinsic value...when you're in his league, your money is tied up in assets, not fine dining expenses for goodness sakes). I mean, seriously if Trump spent 10k *per day* on food, it would still be a rounding error in this calculation.

      Look, I used the $2.9B figure Bloomberg and others came up with, accounting for his debt, lease rights, etc. If you want to argue they're off by 100% or that an S&P multiple against this year's income is, for whatever reasons, the right way to value TrumpThings, fine. -- I don't claim any special insight into how to value a convoluted, crony, enterprise, and I daresay you don't possess that, either.

      Honestly, maybe Adams' is right and this guy is doing some kind of neuro-linguistic programming against the 15% of the country susceptible to it, and maybe he's right to value his name at 3B. If so, I'm glad I somehow inherited the BS detector gene necessary to see through this presumptive, and our current, charismatic demagogue-in-chief.

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    2. Trump's all businesses, brands, struggles, expensive lifestyles made the Trump we know today, S&P fund can never create a fighter like a Trump. It may create a lazy buffoon like you but hey, your brain consumes from stupid liberal media.

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    3. I already shattered the myth that Trump would have done better on S&P http://donsurber.blogspot.com/2015/10/trump-beat-s-500.html

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    4. Sorry Don, but I don't think you shattered the "myth".

      The cumulative return of the S&P, from 1974 (which is when Donald took over operations) through 2015 was 9860%. You can't just look at levels, because doing so would ignore dividends, for example. Total return is the correct metric.

      And, the reason for the comparison is to *benchmark* how well he did, not to suggest an alternative investment strategy for him, personally.

      It is irrelevant when his father actually died (we are benchmarking Donald's strategy, which began when he took over operations in 1974).

      It is also irrelevant that a fire sale would have, potentially, generated less than his estimated 40M net worth at the time. That would be important if we were evaluating, say, Trump's financial adviser. But, we're just trying to get an idea of how his investment choices panned out relative to a very simple one.

      The S&P would have returned 4B. The articles I read estimating his worth, in Bloomberg and Forbes, say he's worth about 2.9B. Maybe they're wrong, but if not (and I have no knowledge whether they are or not), his strategy didn't beat the S&P strategy. In other words, if you could have invested with Trump in 1974, or the S&P, you'd be better off if you chose the latter.

      The relevance is that *he's* created a mythology -- advanced here and by Adams -- that he's some kind of negotiating savant. He's not.

      I, also, am a Carly supporter. I started supporting her after seeing her rout the View panelists the first time, before the first debate. I've started hedging towards Cruz, recently, because I'd much rather him than Trump and Cruz looks like he has a real shot. I'd love a Cruz/Carly ticket.

      Sk Ashif Akram, I'm about the farthest you can get from a liberal. I loathe the liberal media, but I also loathe Donald Trump, for many reasons. Number one, for me, was his response to the Garland shootings. His instincts are not conservative, he attacks conservative rivals with the same style leftists do. I think his 60% disapproval ratings would all but guarantee we have the Clintons again. And, I absolutely cannot stand emotionally driven campaigns, certainly not after living through the hopechangey disgrace of 2008.

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    5. No, I did shatter it. If you read the post you would see. I don't know where you get your "9860%" increase. The S&P is at 2043.94 right now. It would have to be below 1 back in the day to get your number. You can dislike him all you want, but do not make up facts as you go along. There was not a 98.6-fold increase (actually you indicate 99.6-fold) in the S&P, mm-kay? Have a nice day.

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    6. Don, I'm an admirer, but you simply don't understand the point about index level vs cumulative return.

      Corporations can return money to their shareholders via dividend or capital gains. The S&P index level captures the capital gain part. But, it fails to capture dividends, let alone reinvested dividends with compounding.

      Stocks like P&G don't look that impressive on typical stock charts, because they pay large dividends.

      I got my total compounded return here:

      http://dqydj.net/sp-500-return-calculator/

      I plugged in December 1974 and December 2015. That's the number they spit out. I realized, just now, the number is lower for January 1974. I wasn't cherry picking, I was doing a quick calculation while my toddler was occupied. It seems totally reasonable, given the massive inflation in the 70s and 80s.

      I don't think my answer merited the snark. I will try to cross check those numbers, but if I'm wrong, it's in good faith. But, you clearly are making an elementary mistake with respect to the S&P index level.

      Go here and plug in

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    7. Or, another way of seeing it...

      Pull up a calculator and input (1.12)^41. That is, 12% compounded over 41 years. Answer? 104x.

      There's a reason that, when Einstein was asked what the most powerful force in the universe, his answer what "compound interest". Yes, the S&P really did earn ~96x over that period of time.

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    8. OK, as soon as I hit publish, I checked snopes and it's dubious whether Einstein said that...I blame it on my econ professor. But, the math holds.

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  20. Is there something about Trump's use of the word "schlonged" that was brilliant or insightful? It may be a common expression in NYC, but I hadn't heard it elsewhere (Ohio and the South, plus online use where, as you know, you'll read everything).

    If he had said Hillary was "dick-slapped," would that have been more vulgar and backfired on him? I suspect so. The hard "d" sound combined with "slap" conspired to add violence to the imagry.

    Instead, he said "schlonged," which doesn't sound nearly as bad, even though the intent was exactly the same. It almost sounds like a pleasant activity, like "sledding".

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    1. It's Yiddish, and slong as a noun is commonly said in and around NYC. This is the first I've heard it verbbed.

      I have a feeling he was going to say effed, but even Donald's filter kicked in and at the last moment he managed schlonged.

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    2. Oh schlonging is a lot better than sledding

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