Billionaires



November 28, 2019,   5:08 PM

Here’s Why Michael Bloomberg Is 17 Times Richer Than Donald Trump

Michela Tindera and Dan Alexander

FULL BIO

michael bloomberg and donald trump

Image Credit: Gage Skidmore via Flickr (Images Edited)

Everyone knows there is a big gap between the rich and the poor in the United States, but there’s also a big gap between the rich and rich. Take the current presidential race. Donald Trump is worth an estimated $3.1 billion. Lots of money compared to almost everyone else in the world. But a drop in the bucket for Trump’s latest competitor, Michael Bloomberg, who is sitting on a $53 billion fortune of his own.

When managed properly, big fortunes—like any set of investments—can grow exponentially. Bloomberg first landed on the Forbes 400 list of America’s richest people with a fortune of “$350 million or more” in 1992, after his Bloomberg terminals, with their data on global stocks, bonds and more, started populating Wall Street. At that time, Trump was fighting to save his empire after a debt-fueled buying spree brought him to the brink of collapse.

Trump mounted a comeback and returned to the Forbes 400 in 1996, with an estimated $450 million fortune. Bloomberg was worth roughly $1 billion by then, based on the value of his stake in his financial data business.

Over the ensuing 23 years, Trump’s net worth compounded at an annual rate of 8.8%, outperforming the 6.7% return of the S&P 500 stock index over the same period. Most of Trump’s gain came in the first year, from 1996 to 1997, when his fortune jumped from an estimated $450 million to $1.4 billion. Bloomberg’s growth was bigger—and much more consistent—compounding at a rate of 18.8% a year.

Those outsized returns, the result of a booming business, explain how Bloomberg got so much richer than Trump, who—aside from high-profile forays into television and licensing—mostly turned into a manager of aging real estate assets. Bloomberg LP swelled over the past several decades, adding a business and financial news reporting operation. In 2009 Bloomberg LP bought struggling BusinessWeek magazine from McGraw-Hill, reportedly for around $5 million plus assumption of nearly $32 million in debt. Today, Bloomberg LP has estimated revenues of $10 billion, and Michael Bloomberg owns 88% of the company.

Bloomberg LP has thrown off hefty profits, and Michael Bloomberg has funneled $8 billion to philanthropic and activist causes, including Johns Hopkins University and gun control efforts.

Besting someone in business takes a different set of skills than beating someone in an election. Over the next year, Bloomberg, a former three-term New York City mayor, will get a chance to see how he fares against Trump in politics. To back him up, he’ll have the kind of war chest Donald Trump could only dream of.



Recommended Articles