In the year before he announced his presidential candidacy, Donald Trump added $1.3 billion to his net worth. That’s to hear Trump tell it, anyway; he claimed to have been worth $8.7 billion in June 2014 and, by the time he released his personal financial disclosure the following year, it was up to a neat $10 billion.
Of course, he was asking that we trust him on that. More than a third of that $8.7 billion was just his personal brand, which, he once famously said, was dependent on “my own feelings, as to where the world is, where the world is going, and that can change rapidly from day to day.” He was sure, he said in that 2011 interview, that he was worth more than the $2.7 billion assessed by Forbes.
On Tuesday, Forbes released an updated estimate of President Trump’s wealth: He’s now worth $3.1 billion, Forbes figures, up from 2011, but down substantially from 2015. It’s close to the most recent estimate from Bloomberg News, which had Trump worth $2.9 billion in June.
We been tracking outside evaluations (including a sub-billion one from Deutsche Bank a while ago) for some time. Trump’s self evaluation has always soared well above those of outside analysts, perhaps because those inquiring have always caught him on days when he was optimistic about where the world was going.
You’ll notice something interesting, though. After a plunge at the tail end of the recession, Trump steadily gained in net worth under President Barack Obama. Once Trump declared his presidential candidacy, his net worth began to fall. In both of the years he has been president, his net worth has declined.
The economic policies of Obama were more favorable for Trump, it would seem, than the economic policies of Trump.
That’s overly neat, of course. Forbes explains the year-over-year shift in its new analysis. Half of his worth is a function of Manhattan real estate, and Trump Tower alone lost $41 million in value last year. Why? Well, you can blame Amazon, in part: The shift to online commerce has meant that retail space in Manhattan is harder to fill. (Amazon chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos owns The Washington Post.)
Trump also sold all of his stock before the presidential campaign, meaning that he hasn’t gotten to benefit from the rise in stock markets.
Part of it, too, comes down to politics. Forbes’s Dan Alexander writes:
“Three of the president’s largest golf clubs are in states that voted for him, and revenues appear to be up more than 5% at all of them. The reverse happened in places where Trump lost to Hillary Clinton, with sales down an estimated 4% in the northeast and Los Angeles. Revenues are also down in Scotland, where the president owns two golf clubs.”
We’ve seen a number of instances in which Trump-affiliated properties in places where he’s not popular have ripped his name from the walls, most recently in Panama. Trump’s brand was once happily apolitical; now the least popular president in the modern era is finding that there are repercussions to his unpopularity outside of Washington.
Forbes also estimated Trump’s brand businesses — which Trump put at $3.3 billion in 2014 — at a measly $180 million. Trump almost certainly overestimated the value of his brand four years ago. But it’s also possibly the case that the Trump name is no longer worth as much as it used to be.