Saturday, January 31, 2009

the Blind leading the Blind

image credit: Bushwater, an expose' of Geo W. Bush's pre-blind trust financial connections. click image to enlarge.

On January 13th, Bush told Larry King that he doesn't know if our economic decline has eroded his wealth. Because his assets are in a Blind Trust, he said he would not know until January 21st (the day after inauguration).

My ears pricked up at this comment because how Bush's Blind Trust money has fared is something I've been waiting to hear about for 8-yrs. I thought this would be made public very quickly. I was wrong.

I waited all day Wednesday, January 21st. Nothing. Then I thought for sure it would be included in the Friday news dump, January 23rd. Nope. This past week, I was too involved in my own dramas to take much notice, but thought once again, surely Bush's Blind Trust would make the Friday news dump of January 30th.

Well (sigh), I guess it's up to me. I just can't let January end without a stab at it, as best as I can piece it together...

First let me note: a blind trust is a financial arrangement utilized by many public officials. The official decides which of his assets to put into the blind trust. He meets with the blind trust fiduciaries to review, among other things, what investment risk level he is comfortable with. The blind trust takes that information to heart as their directive of how to invest the official's assets. At the point that the assets are invested in the blind trust, the official becomes a client of the blind trust. While the client receives no information on exactly what their assets are invested in and cannot direct the management of their blind trust assets, they do receive quarterly reports on the total value of their investment. The wise client monitors these reports because he is not a prisoner of the blind trust. He can always cash his assets out or move them into another blind trust. So I guess Bush was just joshing about having no idea of the value of his blind trust until January 21st because he would've received a report of the total value as late as December 31, 2008 (gee, what a surprise that he would lie).

In 2000, when Bush decided he would become President, he entered into a blind trust arrangement with Northern Trust Co. (his daddy had used Bessemer Trust, a blueblood firm, but their avg account is $22million and Georgie may not have wanted to admit he was that rich). At that time, Bush put $5million into the blind trust. His other assets, including Crawford Ranch, were excluded from trust investment management. What were those "other assets"? ....

At the trust inception in 2000, Bush reportedly held at least $15million outside the blind trust, for a total of at least $20million in assets. This amount was mostly accumulated through his investments in Harken Energy, Texas Rangers, and Carlyle Group connections.

The $20million is probably a gross underestimate, because like most GOP bigwigs, Bush subscribes to "corporate socialism". He helped himself to public-sector capital while lecturing the rest of us on the virtues of hard work and self-reliance. The plundering of public assets (like the University of Texas) for private gain was and is his business model.

As those links imply, there is really no telling exactly what the value of Bush's "other assets" were in 2000. That is important, because the question of what his blind trust is worth now does not even take into consideration all the assets NOT placed in the blind trust ... assets that could've directly profited from his presidency, like investments in defense war stocks, etc.

But let us, for the sake of conservative estimate, consider that Bush's total assets at the beginning of his presidency were the $20million reported ($5million in a blind trust and $15million held outside the blind trust). What might those assets be worth now, after engineering the Iraq War?

To get at that answer requires knowlege of what Bush has been investing his assets in during the past 8-yrs. Does anyone believe that his blind trust assets as well as his non-blind assets were not heavily invested in Halliburton, ExxonMobil, and Blackwater suppliers? These three are the most notorious of the no-bid war profiteers, earning billions from captive US taxpayers, not to mention the blood of US soldiers. And don't forget, these firms also profited from Katrina, so add the misery of that drowned city into their profits.

Finally, the problem of trying to put a dollar amount on Bush's total investment value requires knowing when his financial advisors advised he get out of the market. Halliburton peaked in June 2008; ExxonMobil in Sept 2008; Blackwater figures are not available as it is a close corporation, but can be extrapolated from these other two.

If Bush's investments were competently handled, with the benefit of a little inside information (nod, nudge, wink), the estimated profit over 8-yrs might be a whopping 3,281%!!!

Yes, while your personal investments may have lost 30-40% over the last 8-yrs, Bush could've been earning 3,281%!

So, Bush's original $20million could be worth as much as $676million by now, if he played his cards right. Does anyone think he would not haved scrupled to personally benefit from his "Iraq War-by-Design"?

And let's not forget Cheney! He makes Bush look positively bush-league. Ignoring all his other assets, Cheney's Halliburton stock holdings alone could be worth $1.2billion today. Yup, those Bushes and Cheneys, they sure know how to bleed a country dry!

And where are their assets? Swiss bank accounts? Offshore shell banks? Convoluted diversionary holding companies? Billions are missing from Iraq. Did some of that missing money end up with Bush? Will we ever really know, or are we doomed to blindness?


Cart said...

You really do get off on those charts!!! :) Still, I would be very surprised if the idiot president wasn't well compensated for fronting the effort to screw the world.

Annette said...

I am sure where ever he had it stashed it was some place it made money not lost like the stock exchange did. Great I love your work.

I am sure like you said he has made mucho bucks... he may not have been very smart but he was sharp enough for that.. and he didn't need any stinking tax cuts

D.K. Raed said...

there's nothing like a good chart! The 3,281% Halliburton return, as of June 2008, included stock increases, stock splits, and mucho dividendos over the last 8-yrs. Screwing the world was just an added benefit for Bush/Cheney!

Boing! (that's me slapping my head) ... the pure greed of the wealthy never cease to amaze me ... unprecedented tax cuts for the top 5% in war time were a top priority for Bush ... he didn't have to be too smart to figure out that keeping more of what he could skim from his war would be extremely beneficial for him & his "have more" friends.

abi said...

It's not his assets that bother me. What bothers me is that his lying ass isn't in jail where it belongs.

D.K. Raed said...

Hey, nice to see ya! How Bush acquired those assets is part of why he belongs in jail. The quasi-legal stuff that happened before he took public office is maybe due to his family name, but anything that happened after he became gov & then prez is up for conjecture and scrutiny. Just remember, Al Capone was finally brought in for tax evasion!

Fran said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fran said...

$@@#$^@#$% Blogger ate my brilliant post - the nerve of it!

I am sure when the gas prices rose to just about $5-bucks-a-gallon & Bush shrugged & said he did not have a magic wand to fix it, he had dollar signs in his eyes.

As he courted Saudi Arabian oil tycoons, literally holding hands, the base had people chanting *Drill Baby Drill* at their convention. The one he or Cheney did not attend, maybe because of 10,000 people in the streets protesting his regime?

(It sounds like I am making this stuff up, doesn't it???) The truth is stranger than fiction.

So do I think the Bush fortunes grew from the oil glut & sky high pricing..... yes, yes I do.

We know Halliburton moved on to Dubai, while Bush has 1583 acres in Crawford, a $2 million dollar mansion in Dallas, and 10,000 acres in Paraguay.
You think that is enough for 2 people?????

In a perfect world, Bush would be in jail & ALL his assets would be seized, and given as restitution to Gitmo detainees & we the people.

Let George get that "unoque American experience" of working 3 jobs, no healthcare, no home.
How patriotic would that be???

D.K. Raed said...

Hah, yes I saw your comment posted twice! Well well, yes the oil war was sure good for the oil men wasn't it? Who could've foreseen that? Hah! And yeah, Halliburton moved off-shore ... of course! Gotta protect that no-bid windfall income from US taxes! These guys will simply NEVER pay their fair share of taxes no matter what. And they keep asking for more! More tax cuts for the wealthy, yeah, like that'll solve our economic woes. They think if they include it in with a few tax bones to everyone else, we'll buy it. Been there, done that ...

Fran said...

Actually I posted something last night, that vanished into the ether.

Then noticed my 2nd attempt needed an edit.

Third time's a charm!

Obama should have the legal team put together some kind of legislation that takes care of the Halliburton tax slip-- if you are a contractor from a foreign country impose lower amounts paid out or some kind of tariff- don't let the bastards get away with further bilking the U.S. with their war profiteering tax evasion schemes.

Border Explorer said...

D.K., I feel like I'm reading the investigative reporting of a top-of-the-line journalist here. You are one smart cookie! I do hope that everything that Bush sent out into the universe will return to rest on his own head.

Mauigirl said...

Great job figuring out what Bush has. But even if he'd lost money he'd have way more than any of us!

D.K. Raed said...

I do recall Obama campaigning about taxing offshore corps whose profits are mainly "made in america". Just another thing to add to the to-do list. Jeez, pretty soon we may have to junk the whole system & start over ... might be easier than these mickeymouse quick fixes.

Thanks! Trying to put together what Bush is worth is a pretty frustrating experience. It's pretty obvious he has more assets than ever publically revealed -- which wouldn't be relevant except for the way he earned them & for which we may all hope justice eventually prevails. Raw Story broke the news about the potential 3,281% profit which helped a lot.

yup, there is that about the wealthy ... they can lose their shirts but still have cashmere sweaters & bruno magli loafers.

eProf2 said...

Are you sure you're not an economist or financial planner? Well done post, DK. When you get the results for Bush and Cheney I hope you'll be able to post them here (if you haven't choked on the billions earned by these two crooks).

D.K. Raed said...

Aren't we ALL economists now? My research into this topic cannot go further until more info becomes publically available. I would've thought someone might follow up after the Larry King interview ... but no, the media only covers the "scoop d'jour".

However, we are going to see that Frost/Nixon movie this afternoon, so I'm sure that'll inspire some "follow the money" thoughts!

enigma4ever said...

so funny...this column was so interesting...and yet kind of nauseating...and worrisome...urgh.. always find the most amazing stuff...

D.K. Raed said...

yes, worrisome, because it is truly BLOOD-MONEY! People died so the former criminal-in-chief & his cronies could cash in!

Dave Dubya said...

Who says crime doesn't pay?

Warcrimes, torture, treason and terrorism seem pretty lucrative these days.

D.K. Raed said...

Dave Dub:
Not only does crime pay, it pays a double indemnity bonus to those who get away with it. They don't give a fig about the swath of death and destruction left in their wake ... so triple indemnity, maybe! Halliburton and Blackwater are up to their corporate eyeballs in rendition activity, you can count on it.

Bruce said...

Dear Friends, You are so right about the stench coming from the former Monarch and Paranoid King-maker.

The definition of 'blind trust' reveals it as an accountability avoidance tool.
His kin made billions {Saudi Arabia was paying cash for a pipeline} so I thank you for the reference that King George didn't fear any retribution-after all, he was the King, a president-like Nixon-and American law allows rich criminals to exploit their class and their plutocratic position.
I feel like a liberal pissant-it's OK!