A few years back I explained that with a steady succession of bailouts, favorable legislation, and artificially cheap money that anyone with a little cash could have made a boat load of money in the stock market over the past 35 years. All they they had to do was invest it and simply leave their money alone.
I even told the Wall Street Journal inspired story of how "a monkey with darts" could have made money in the market simply by randomly throwing darts at the financial pages and then using those "picks" to make investments.
The monkey with darts story is pretty funny (and true). But the larger point is that it didn't take much effort to make a lot of money in our artificially inflated market since 1980. If you had a little cash, you just needed to invest it and leave it alone. The bailouts and political favors would do the rest.
This is what makes Donald Trump's claims about becoming a multi-billionaire (and the meme below) so funny. If Trump had just taken the hundreds of millions he inherited and dumped it in, say, a mutual fund that tracked the S&P 500 he would have made even more money than he claims to have now. When we consider his company's four bankruptcies, what becomes clear is that Trump is actually a terrible - if not a failed - investor ...
The LRB article by Deborah Friedell (which you can find here) does a pretty good job of showing other elements about Donald Trump. Specifically, it helps us see that Trump's really a terrible businessman, and more probably a delusional megalomaniac.
While Friedell is actually using figures put together by The National Journal (which you can find here), one thing is clear: When we look at Trump's financial and business history, calling Donald Trump a clown might be giving him too much credit.
Donald Trump's actual peers - or his evolutionary superiors - just might be a couple of primates with darts.