Enough with the caterwauling. Let’s face facts. Donald Trump is going to get a whole lot richer. He just is, no matter whether or not he introduces the strictest ethical protocols to wall off his business interests from his role as America’s 45th president.
That Mr Trump isn’t about to introduce strict ethical protocols is a reasonably held fact. He has said he doesn’t want to give up his business.
But even had he done so, Mr Trump’s licensing businesses – which require him to license his name and receive payment for their use of the Trump brand – surged in value as of November 9, 2016. This is for two reasons:
- for a brand to have value, it must signify all the things people associate with success. Mr Trump’s brand is now, to use one of his favourite words, associated with “winning” and with power.
- As America’s president-elect, Mr Trump has achieved a rare distinction only so far enjoyed by 44 other people in 240 years. His brand has become unique, an invitation-only club that requires members to pay their (very substantial) dues.
One of Mr Trump’s Indian business partners, the Lodha Group, says on the home page of its Trump Tower Mumbai website: “Congratulations Mr. President-Elect. The Trump Name Is Rising High In Mumbai Too.”
Let’s read the runes to understand what we can expect of the enormous conflict of interests that were set in train with Mr Trump’s election win. Herewith, just a look at Mr Trump and India:
- A Washington Post analysis of Mr Trump’s pre-election financial disclosure found that of his 111 international business deals, the highest number 16 were in India.
- The Trump Organization has five current projects in India and their total value to developers is $1.5billion, according to the Huffington Post. But Mr Trump does not own any of the apartment buildings or luxury condos.
- Mr Trump took time off from building his cabinet to meet with three of his Indian business parters, Atul Chordia, Sagar Chordia and Kalpesh Mehta.
- In an extraordinary indication of how US government comments on other countries’ domestic matters may become a little like a game of Chinese whispers, Kalpesh Mehta said that he didn’t have a chance to discuss the Indian government’s controversial implementation of currency demonetization with the US president-elect, but that “his (Mr Trump’s) kids knew about it” and they called it an ‘incredibly bold move.”
There is a lot of potential for a lot to go wrong – and some to go right. But the Trump brand is gold, for now.