When Times reporter Tim O'Brien said in his book TrumpNation that Donald Trump exaggerated his net worth by billions, and that the real number hovered closer to $250 million, the Donald was so pissed that he sued him for defamation. But in a deposition given on the case in 2007, which The Wall Street Journal has gotten hold of, it becomes clear that the Donald has indeed been using some creative accounting on himself. Very creative. For instance, we learn that the Donald bases his estimation of the value of his empire not on the actual numbers ("I'm not an accountant," he told lawyers), but on his personal perception of his brand value and "mental projections" of what this might be worth in the future.
In other words, it is in part based on his mood.
"My net worth fluctuates, and it goes up and down with markets and with attitudes and with feelings, even my own feeling," he told lawyers in the December 2007 deposition.
Right. Also, not only does it seem he has no idea what his net worth is, he doesn't seem to actually have any idea what net is.
At one point a lawyer asked Mr. Trump: "Are you familiar with the concept of net present value?" Net present value is a key measure used in real estate to estimate the worth of an asset in today's dollars based on its future cash flow and the time-value of money.
"The concept of net present value to me would be the value of the land currently after debt," Mr. Trump said. He added, "Well, to me, the word 'net' is an interesting word. It's really — the word 'value' is the important word."
Oh, dear. Well, to be fair when it comes to the personality that is Donald Trump, this is not entirely unreasonable. For instance, we would say his brand value is worth much more in the picture on the right than in the picture on the left, and all that has changed is the wind.