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6 reasons you can’t believe anything Donald Trump says about his $9 billion net worth

(Photo by Christopher Gregory/Getty Images)
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The balance sheet that Donald Trump used as a prop for his announcement this morning has impressive-looking numbers. But for those of us who deal with numbers for a living — and who have dealt with Trump in the past — his claim of a net worth of $8.7 billion as of last June makes no sense.

Based on my reading of the numbers and my previous experiences with Trump, here’s my bottom line: Trump’s balance sheet is  certainly over-inflated and doesn’t seem to be tethered to much of a financial reality.

Here are some of the major reasons I say this:

1. He says that real estate licensing deals, and brand and branded development, are worth a wonderfully precise $3,320,020,000. Where on earth does this valuation come from? It’s not credible without some sort of certification from a serious, impartial third-party.

2. He claims that his New York City commercial and residential properties are worth a total of $2.03 billion. But the liabilities on his balance sheet for those properties total only $332 million. That’s only 16 percent of their claimed value. That’s not how big-time real estate people operate — they typically have a much higher debt level. And what is the $2.03 billion valuation based on?

3. He shows club facilities and related real estate worth valued at more than $2 billion, with only $146.6 million of liabilities. That’s debt of less than 8 percent of their supposed net worth, which seems like way too little debt for their supposed net worth. And what is that net worth based on?

4. He says his partly-owned properties are worth $843.1 million “net of debt.” Before placing any credence in this number, I’d like to see what the properties are and what the debt consists of. And where the valuation number comes from. And I’d also like to know what valuation the other owners and/or independent third parties place on these properties.

5. He says his properties under development are worth $301.5 million, but have only $7.14 million of liabilities. In other words, they have virtually no debt. Hard to believe.

6. There are plenty of other problems, such as $317.4 million of “other assets (net of debt) and $302.3 million of “cash and marketable securities” that are defined in, shall we say, an unconventional way.

But enough, already. You get the point, I hope, that there is no way on earth to tell what Trump is actually worth, because the numbers aren’t supported by anything. If he had presented this balance sheet to me in a personal finance class, I’d have given him a short message: “You’re fired.”

Donald Trump spoke on his personal wealth, China, Secretary of State John Kerry's bike accident and more in the top moments from his presidential announcement. (Video: Sarah Parnass/The Washington Post)