DealBook Briefing: $1 Billion in Trump Losses, From 1985 to 1994

DealBook Briefing: $1 Billion in Trump Losses, From 1985 to 1994

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A decade in the red for Trump

The NYT obtained 10 years of previously unrevealed figures from Donald Trump’s federal income tax returns, for the years 1985 through 1994. The second half of that decade was known to be one of his roughest patches financially, but the new numbers — from printouts of I.R.S. transcripts — suggest his losses started earlier and went deeper than previously thought, Russ Buettner and Susanne Craig write.

• “In 1985, Mr. Trump reported losses of $46.1 million from his core businesses — largely casinos, hotels and retail space in apartment buildings. They continued to lose money every year, totaling $1.17 billion in losses for the decade.”

• “His core business losses in 1990 and 1991 — more than $250 million each year — were more than double those of the nearest taxpayers in the I.R.S. information for those years.”

• “Mr. Trump lost so much money that he was able to avoid paying income taxes for eight of the 10 years.”

Mr. Trump’s legal team contests the numbers. Charles Harder, one of Mr. Trump’s lawyers, would cite no specific errors, but wrote that The Times’s statements “about the president’s tax returns and business from 30 years ago are highly inaccurate” and that I.R.S. transcripts, particularly before electronic filing, were “notoriously inaccurate.”

A former I.R.S. official suggests otherwise. Mark Mazur, once the agency’s director of research, analysis and statistics, said the “data used to create such transcripts had undergone quality control for decades and had been used to analyze economic trends and set national policy,” Mr. Buettner and Ms. Craig write.

We still don’t know about Mr. Trump’s finances before and during his presidential campaign: House Democrats are seeking returns for the past six years. But the new information “gives a precise accounting of the president’s financial failures and of the constantly shifting focus that would characterize his decades in business,” Mr. Buettner and Ms. Craig write.

More: New York lawmakers intend to advance a bill this week to allow congressional committees to see Mr. Trump’s New York State returns.

Google’s Damascus moment on privacy

Stop us if you’ve heard this before: The C.E.O. of a huge tech company with a vast storehouse of user data and a business model built on targeted ads now says that its top priority is privacy.

This time it was Google’s Sundar Pichai, at the company’s annual conference for developers yesterday. “We think privacy is for everyone — not just for the few,” Mr. Pichai explained. “We want to do more to stay ahead of constantly evolving user expectations.” He hammered the point home in an NYT Op-Ed.

The company unveiled tools to help. It will let users search and browse services like YouTube and Google Maps in a so-called “incognito mode,” Daisuke Wakabayashi and Brian Chen of the NYT write. Also coming: a setting that auto-deletes your Google history after a specified time, and new ways to check what the company knows about you.

It comes on the heels of a Facebook privacy push. Last week, Mark Zuckerberg said that “the future is private” and announced that his company would focus on more intimate communications — though he didn’t reveal as many specifics as Google did.

The shift may be superficial. Google has made “meaningful changes when it comes to the user’s expectations of privacy, but I don’t think this affects their business at all,” Fatemeh Khatibloo, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester, told the NYT. “So why shouldn’t they do these things to give the impression of more privacy?”

Trade war jitters are back in force

The resurgence of trade tension between the U.S. and China made stocks plummet and businesses brace for fallout, Matt Phillips, Ana Swanson and Alan Rappeport of the NYT write.

• “The Trump administration is threatening to raise the tariff on roughly $200 billion of Chinese imports to 25 percent, from 10 percent, on Friday.”

• “The administration doubled down after Chinese negotiators walked back commitments, including how the deal would be enforced.”

• A Chinese delegation is to travel to Washington for talks this week, but it is unclear whether the newest tensions can be defused.

President Trump was bullish. The tariffs he had already imposed “are partially responsible for our great economic results,” he tweeted, implying more could be even better. “Almost no evidence supports his claims,” Jim Tankersley of the NYT notes.

The S&P 500 index dropped 1.65 percent on Tuesday, its second straight daily decline. “That spoiled what had been a jubilant mood in the markets,” Mr. Phillips, Ms. Swanson, and Mr. Rappeport write. The S&P 500 had risen 17.5 percent in the first four months of the year, “the index’s best start to a year since 1987.” Global markets showed signs of stabilizing today, with Asian indexes failing to match Wall Street’s slump and major European markets opening flat or modestly higher.

Investors and business owners expect further turbulence. Shares of companies that rely on international trade and the Chinese economy took a particular beating. And U.S. trade associations warned that further tariffs could disrupt their industries, harming the economy and raising prices for consumers.

Is the Fed ready for climate change?

The central bank’s chairman, Jerome Powell, said in a letter to Congress that he was working to make sure that banks can withstand financial shocks relating to climate-change events, the WSJ reports.

Severe weather events “have the potential to inflict serious damage on the lives of individuals and families, devastate local economies (including financial institutions), and even temporarily affect national economic output and employment,” Mr. Powell wrote. “As such, these events may affect economic conditions, which we take into account in our assessment of the outlook for the economy.”

“In our framework, severe weather events are treated as shocks to the system,” he continued. “Some potential risks are difficult to quantify and especially if they materialize over such a long horizon that methods beyond near-term analysis and monitoring are appropriate.”

But some people think that’s not enough. “There is no way to say this diplomatically,” Senator Brian Schatz, Democrat of Hawaii, said on Twitter. “Their answers were garbage. The highlights: according to the Fed, severe weather isn’t new and climate change isn’t their responsibility. The American agencies that oversee the financial system have decided to ignore climate change.”

Lyft promises record losses this year

The ride-hailing company has posted its first financial results as a public company, with a doubling of revenue but steep losses, Kate Conger of the NYT writes.

• “Lyft posted a loss of $1.14 billion for the first quarter, compared with a loss of $234.3 million in the same period a year earlier.”

• “The widening loss was driven by a $894 million charge for its stock-based compensation. Excluding that expense, the loss was $211.5 million.”

• “Revenue rose 95 percent, to $776 million.”

This will be Lyft’s “peak loss year,” according to Brian Roberts, the C.F.O. That’s a result of heavy investment in new lines of business, Ms. Konger writes, including rentals of electronic bikes and scooters, and autonomous vehicle development.

Consider this a scene-setter for Uber’s I.P.O., due within days. “It, too, is deeply unprofitable and has prompted questions about whether ride-hailing — which involves hefty spending to attract drivers and passengers — is a sustainable business,” Ms. Konger writes.

More: Lyft announced that it was partnering with Waymo to offer rides near Phoenix in 10 self-driving vehicles.

Investors don’t dig climate start-ups

Small companies are looking for ways to remove carbon from the atmosphere. But funding is hard to come by, Nathaniel Popper of the NYT writes.

• “The last time venture capitalists invested heavily in environmentally focused technology during the so-called clean-tech boom of the 2000s, they lost a lot of money.”

• “Total funding for clean-tech start-ups fell during most of the past decade, according to data from the research firm Pitchbook. In 2018, $6.6 billion was invested in clean tech, about 15 percent of what went to software start-ups. Carbon-removal start-ups got a tiny sliver of that.”

• That may be an “existential problem,” given that many scientists now believe that breakthroughs in carbon removal will be essential to avoiding drastic global warming, even if greenhouse-gas emissions are reduced significantly.

• One big issue: Investors need returns within years, and many clean-tech start-ups have to work to longer timelines. Many investors think the sector will only take off with government backing.

Revolving door

Brian Levine, Goldman Sachs’s co-head of global equities trades and execution services, will retire this summer after 25 years there. Philip Berlinski and Jeff Nedelman will join Michael Daffey in leading the bank’s global equities operations.

The Carlyle Group hired Ruulke Bagijn to lead its investment solutions group, which builds private equity and real estate portfolios. She was previously co-head of AlpInvest Partners’ primary funds investments team.

Oracle is said to be preparing to lay off more than 900 workers in China.

The speed read


• Siemens confirmed that it planned to spin off its struggling gas and power division. (Bloomberg)

• The Singaporean ride-hailing company Grab might spin off its payments and financial services businesses. (FT)

• Anheuser-Busch InBev is exploring an I.P.O. of its Asia operations. (FT)

• Vodafone is promising Telefónica Deutschland access to its cable network in Germany to allay E.U. competition concerns about its purchase of Liberty Global assets. (FT)

• Australia’s antitrust regulator blocked the merger of Vodafone Hutchison Australia and TPG Telecom, a deal worth 15 billion Australian dollars, or about $10.5 billion. (Sydney Morning Herald)

Politics and policy

• The Justice Department threatened to ask President Trump to invoke executive privilege over the hidden portions of Robert Mueller’s report if Democrats proceed with a vote to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress. (NYT)

• Mr. Trump and Mr. Barr disagree on whether Mr. Mueller should be allowed to testify before Congress. That could test the Justice Department’s independence. (NYT)

• Mr. Mueller’s office sought to keep secret memos written by the former F.B.I. director James Comey. (NYT)

• Two U.S. House committees said they were in “good-faith negotiations” to allow President Trump to see copies of subpoenas that direct Deutsche Bank and Capital One Financial to turn over his bank records. (Bloomberg)


• Facebook has decided to build its new WhatsApp payment system in Britain. (FT)

• Hackers stole 7,000 Bitcoins, worth about $40 million, from the Binance cryptocurrency exchange. (Bloomberg)

• Apple is trying to think more about serving shoppers, rather than branding, in its stores. (Bloomberg)

• Uber drivers in Australia went on strike, part of a series of global stoppages planned before the company’s I.P.O. (NYT)

• Netflix has reportedly scaled back lobbying efforts in the U.S., and shifted its attention to the E.U. (Information)

Best of the rest

• Real estate’s new big thing: Companies like Zillow and Opendoor are offering “instant buying” to home sellers. (NYT)

• Danish prosecutors have charged Danske Bank’s former C.E.O. over the lender’s money-laundering scandal. (FT)

• Federal regulators plan to restrict abusive debt-collection practices such as barraging customers with phone calls. (NYT)

• The college admissions scandal is being turned into a TV show. (Vanity Fair)

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