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Forbes 400: Who Really Has the Most Toys?

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The Forbes 400 list of the richest Americans just came out, a list that is likely to be as accurate as one of Miss Cleo’s palm readings. Ask the people at Forbes and they’ll tell you that at best they are parceling out educated guesses.

The truth is that the morass of modern finance makes it nearly impossible to figure out what most of these people are worth. Bill Gates’ wealth is determined mostly by the value of his Microsoft Stock.

If you own 1,000 shares of Microsoft and it’s trading at $25, well it’s worth pretty close to $25,000. The market can easily handle your 1,000 shares. The chaos that would be caused by Bill Gates cashing in his whole portfolio or even retiring for that matter makes his real liquid worth almost impossible to speculate on.

Hell, Forbes once had Pablo Escobar on their list as one of the richest men in the world. How exactly did they quantify his net worth?

Let’s look at the biggest con man on the list: #117 – Donald Trump. Trump has his net worth tied up in so many loans, properties, and cons that you could hire 100 auditors to try and figure out what he’s worth and they would all come up with numbers that weren’t even remotely close to each other.

Hey, I run Enron, I’m one of the richest men in America! What? I’m not worth a cent? My accounting is all bullshit. Sorry, about that.

A New York Times article on Trump’s wealth is seven pages long. Its goal is to ascertain how much money Trump has. By the end of the article, he pretty much nails it down to somewhere in between 900 million and 9 billion. I have no idea how much Donald Trump is worth, but if The Donald wants to buy your 1978 Pinto, I’d ask for cash.

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About Brad Laidman