Audit Notes: low-info billionaires, Trump the taker, Elizabeth Warren

Money apparently can't buy a firm grip on reality

One of the things this election proved conclusively is that even billionaires can be low-information voters.

Here’s Bloomberg BusinessWeek on billionaire David Siegel, the guy who’s building the a 90,000 square foot house and who all but told his workers to vote for Romney if they wanted to keep their jobs (emphasis mine):

I think it’s going to be a negative climate for business. It’s going to be more of the same, and the same was terrible. I’m not optimistic. I’m going to work hard, try to turn lemons into lemonade, but I don’t see this economy turning around. I think it’s going to be worse in four years. I doubt if there will ever be another Republican president in my lifetime. We had the best candidate we could have had. We had some of the worst economic conditions in the country’s history. And we couldn’t get him elected.

BuzzFeed on Donald Trump:

Trump, meanwhile, refused to let off, believing, as one of his friends said, “in his heart of hearts that he’s helping… Everywhere he goes, people are telling him, ‘You’re right about this birth certificate issue!’ He obviously believes it’s legit.”

And New York quoting a hedge-fund billionaire overheard two months ago in an “exclusive club”:

“People work their asses off to get where they are, and they get punished,” he said. “I wanted to fly my friend to Davos this year, and people were like, you’re not going to fly the jet to Davos, are you? How will that look to the Occupy people? I’m like, what the fuck are you talking about? I worked hard for this!”

The stock market is up 62 percent under Obama.

— Bloomberg is excellent to notice that in Atlantic City, the casinos were protected by government funded storm barriers while poor areas drowned.

About three quarters of Atlantic City suffered flooding, said Dennis Brooks, the fire chief. About 25 percent of the city’s residents live in poverty, according to the U.S. Census, compared with about 9.1 percent statewide.

Areas with minimal damage are along a 5.1-mile stretch of beach where contractors this year finished an $18 million replenishment program with funding from federal, state and local governments…

Along the protected area, the Trump Taj Mahal, Showboat and other casinos survived the largest tropical system in the Atlantic in part because of the program, which also included $22 million worth of additional sand in 2004, said Stephen Rochette, spokesman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which oversaw the work.

Two of those casinos protected by government funds are controlled by… Donald Trump.

— I have to say I would have never guessed CNBC’s John Carney was an Elizabeth Warren fan. He writes about our “first blogger senator,” and explains her ideas well:

Take a look at Warren’s archives at Credit Slips and you realize you are glimpsing at a brilliant and open mind. Bankruptcy, student loans, bank bailouts, credit cards, home prices, deleveraging undermining stimulus: blogger Warren is all over it.

Take a look at the post titled “Senate Thinks About The Middle Class.” While most policy makers and too many academics were blind to the coming crisis, Warren was warning that American households were unsustainably debt burdened. What’s more, she correctly diagnosed the source of the debt burden: a lack of income.

This is a point a lot of people still don’t get. They talk about Americans with flat-screen televisions, Sub-Zero kitchen appliances and too many bed rooms in their McMansions. Americans are described as spendthrifts who lived beyond their means, didn’t save enough, and ran up credit card debts. You’ve heard this argument plenty of times: the American economy was fragile because Americans weren’t saving enough, and Americans weren’t saving enough because they were engaged in frivolous spending.

I suppose that makes a neat morality tale for some people. But it’s not what was really happening.

Read the whole thing.

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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum. Tags: , , , ,