We should have known.
Courtesy of WaPo:
President Trump’s private business has shut down six of its top seven revenue-producing clubs and hotels because of restrictions meant to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, potentially depriving Trump’s company of millions of dollars in revenue.
Those closures come as Trump is considering easing restrictions on movement sooner than federal public health experts recommend, in the name of reducing the virus’s economic damage.
In a tweet late Sunday, Trump said the measures could be lifted as soon as March 30. “WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF,” he wrote on Twitter.
In his unprecedented dual role as president and owner of a sprawling business, Trump is facing dual crises caused by the coronavirus. As he is trying to manage the pandemic from the White House, limiting its casualties as well as the economic fallout, his company is also navigating a major threat to the hospitality industry.
That threatens to pull Trump in opposite directions, because the strategies that many scientists believe will help lessen the public emergency — like strict, long-lasting restrictions on movement — could deepen the short-term problems of Trump’s private business, by keeping doors shut and customers away.
Trump’s business includes some commercial office buildings, which have long-term leases and should not be hurt as immediately by the virus. But he is also heavily invested in the hotel business, with 11 hotels around the world.
That business needs new people walking in the door every day, to eat and stay. And by keeping people away, the coronavirus has brought that industry its worst downturn in recent history.
“The data is bad. And we haven’t seen the worst of it yet,” said Jan Freitag, a senior vice president with the firm STR, which analyzes hotel industry data. He noted that the damage to the industry is being caused by the lockdowns and the fear of the virus. “What we’re seeing here is a rapid descent that’s going to last. So it’s going to be a little bit of a worst-case combination of post-9/11 and [the financial crisis of] 2009.”
So far, the Trump Organization has closed hotels in Las Vegas; Doral, Fla.; Ireland; and Turnberry, Scotland — as well as the Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida and a golf club in Bedminster, N.J. Many of the clubs closed because they had to, under local orders. Others closed on their own, following strong guidance or recommendations from local officials.
Those are six of Trump’s top seven revenue-producing clubs and hotels, bringing in about $174 million total per year, according to Trump’s most recent financial disclosures. That works out to $478,000 per day — revenue that is likely to be sharply reduced with the clubs shuttered. The disclosures provide self-reported revenue figures but not profits.
So Trump may be putting his desire to keep making money and save his various businesses before the well being of the American people.
I doubt that any of us find that even remotely surprising.
There is a reason we ask presidents to divest of their holdings and sell their businesses.
Trump is exhibit A of why that is so important.