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Donald Trump
Trump at CPAC 2/10/11. Photo by Gage Skidmore
Several sources estimate Trump's net worth at slightly less than a billion dollars. Trump objects, saying the correct figure is more like a cool 2.7 billion. Let's give him the benefit of the doubt and use his own claim. Trump says he began working for his wealthy father in the 1960s, but again let's give him the benefit of the doubt by providing a learning curve. Let's generously say he didn't really get rocking and rolling in the real estate market with daddy's money until 1975. Trump's father was worth almost half a billion when he passed away in the 90s. But let's say it was $100 million in 1975 and Trump really is worth his claimed $2.7 billion today.

The compound annualized return on $100 million put into the S & P 500 in 1975 would have grown to about $5.7 billion today. More than twice the amount Trump claims he's worth. For perspective, any growth investment manager, any mainstream stock mutual fund, that lagged the S & P 500 by a factor of two over that long of a time period is considered lousy. Any stock jock or real estate tycoon proclaiming themselves an investment genius, or even a smart guy, with those shabby numbers amid three or four bankruptcies might reasonably be called a fraud.

Now, I'm not saying Donald Trump is a fraud. I'm certainly not calling him a carnival barker. That's for the American people to decide, not me. Maybe his dad only let him play with $10 million, or maybe his father only had $10 million in 1975, or maybe his dad didn't trust him with the full family fortune until much later. But The Donald could put all these questions and the growing controversy to rest simply by releasing his full financial records for experts to examine. And really, what's the downside for shutting his critics up? Why wouldn't Trump want to show off his legendary investment acumen, assuming he has nothing to hide?

For the record, I hope he's not a fraud. I really do. If those full records exonerate him not only will it be a great honor to have played a part in finally bringing the facts before the American people, I'll apologize if anyone mistakenly thinks I so much as implied Donald Trump is a fraud. Which brings up an even more serious controversy, given the release of Obama's long form birth certificate, doesn't Donald Trump now owe President Obama an apology for suggesting the President was "involved in the greatest" political fraud of all time?

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