Running for President Can Be a Profitable Investment


The Washington Post has a long piece tonight about Donald Trump’s latest FEC filing, which shows that business has boomed during his presidential campaign. It’s a little hard to make sense of, but apparently Trump claims that revenue from his various businesses rose from $362 million to $557 million. However, about $150 million of that came from one-off sales, so it’s unclear how much his campaign has really boosted things.

You can decide for yourself how seriously to take this, but here’s the most important part of the story:

While Trump’s campaign issued a statement referring to the form as a tally of his personal “income,” it is actually a list of his companies’ gross revenue — a figure that does not factor in the costs of paying employees and running the companies. In addition, the FEC form does not account for debt interest payments, a potentially significant expenditure for Trump, who lists five loans of over $50 million each.

In other words, this is all pretty meaningless, since we have no idea how well run Trump’s company is. Generally speaking, though, a large corporation is doing well if it records pretax earnings of around 10 percent. For a company like Trump’s, maybe the average is more like 15-20 percent. Then again, it could be lower if his debt service is high. Who knows?

That said, a rough guess puts Trump’s income last year somewhere in the range of $40-$100 million. Not bad.