Donald Trump has announced his all-male, all-wealthy team of economic advisers. Ready to meet the team?
Well, there are a couple of Wall Street hedge fund billionaires, at least two mortgage fraudsters, America’s discount cigarette CEO, the king of crumbling strip malls, Nixon’s former lawyer who moved to Neverland, a fracking crazy oilman who attributes rising stock prices to Trump, a second generation Goldman-Sachs investment banker, and a corporate raider who profited from both the 2008 crash and 9/11.
If you were expecting to find an economist among Trump’s economic advisers … have you been paying attention? This is Trump.
Despite his complaints about Wall Street and hedge funds, Trump put investment bankers and hedge-fund managers front and center on his team. But one thing he didn’t disguise—his love for disaster financing. Not only does Trump himself love a good foreclosure, he selected plenty of people with similar vulture-based policies for his team. Because there’s nothing Trump loves more than people who completely agree with him.
So … who are these guys? And why might one of them know what happened to Bubbles and the Elephant Man?
Here are the all-stars that Trump has selected to form his “never going to get a chance to run this country, thank God” economic team:
Steve Roth, who bought out a chain of stores to turn them into strip malls. Because if there’s one thing that America really needs more of, it’s empty store space in strip malls. The strip mall king created Vornado Realty, and managed to lose $679 million in 2015 alone.
Harold Hamm, whose personal wealth dropped from about $20 billion to $8 billion this year as oil prices fell, stumbled into his fortune when his small oil and gas company was early to the fracking trough. Hamm may also be the one man in the nation who believes in more crazy things than Donald Trump. Hamm’s solution to falling oil prices, overflowing storage facilities, and a crumbling industry? Remove all those pesky regulations (but increase subsidies) so we can drill more oil. Hamm isn’t just a threat to the national energy policy, he’s a threat to his own industry.
Howard Lorber, of the Vector Group, which in turn is mainly composed of the Liggett Group—the fourth largest tobacco company in the United States. Liggett makes “woman’s brand” Eve for your feminine cancer needs, and discount brands like Montego, Eagle 20s and Grand Prix which are found behind gas station counters across the country.
Steven Mnuchin, Trump’s national finance chairman, made millions at Goldman-Sachs, where his father was already an executive. He made his biggest deal by repackaging a failed housing lender involved in lawsuits over illegal foreclosures, selling it off to another investment firm, and running.
Tom Barrack, Middle East real estate investor most famous for purchasing Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch, and also for being on the board of numerous overseas banks. Barrack was a billionaire in 2011, but since then has dipped into the ranks of mere millionaires. If you worry that he might not be into the environment, know that he was an undersecretary to James Watt during the Reagan administration. That should solve those worries. He also worked for Richard Nixon’s personal lawyer so … good experience.
Steve Calk, who played his role in the run up to the real estate crash by providing inaccurate underwriting information and playing hide-and-go-seek with assets. Calk was the owner of Chicago Bancorp, which sold off bad loans, dissolved itself, then recreated itself as the sparkly new, official-sounding Federal Savings Bank. That’s the kind of twistiness Trump admires.
John Paulson, hedge-fund manager, and Wall Street high roller who used a Bermuda-based entity to dodge US taxes and run up “one of the biggest fortunes in Wall Street history” at the same time Trump was complaining “hedge fund guys are getting away with murder.” Paulson’s a specialist in “distressed securities.” Make a note. It’ll come up again.
Andy Beal, who created his own Beal Bank and proceeded to scoop up money by playing the deregulated California energy market in the Enron days, leveraging aircraft values following 9/11, and jumping into the foreclosure market in 2008—pretty much the living embodiment of Trump’s love for unstable markets. Beal also tried to start his own aerospace company, but got kicked in the butt by SpaceX and other competitors.
Steve Feinberg, another hedge-fund manager, who is also the CEO of Cerberus Capital Management. If Cerberus sounds familiar, it should. It’s another specialist in "distressed investing.” Cerberus most famously tried to grab Chrysler during the auto industry collapse, but the deal fell apart. But Cerberus did manage to buy up most of GM’s finance arm and pull in billions from TARP. It also bought guns, guns, and guns. Cerberus owns Bushmaster and Remington. Incidentally, it was a Bushmaster AR-15 that was used at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Who funds the NRA? Um...
That’s the team! Not exactly the Avengers. More like the gold-plated Jackals of Wall Street.
In other words, Trump selected a whole team full of Trumps. You’re surprised?
Just for the fun of it, another slice of Harold Hamm.
Included among Hamm’s theories is that anti-fracking forces are backed by communists from Russia (Donald’s boss might not like that one). Also, Hamm has complained about scientists who pointed out the connection between fracking and earthquakes, and promised to lean on Governor Mary Fallin to get them fired. It didn’t work. Hamm was part of a lobbying group to avoid regulating fracking pollution of drinking water. And Hamm even maintained that the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando showed that we need to drill for more oil. Which is … impressive. In a way.