🏛️ 📉 Donald Trump has dropped out of the Forbes 400 list of the world’s richest people for the first time in 25 years. The former president is now worth around $2.5bn, down from $3.5bn in 2016, shortly before he moved into the White House. If he’s looking for someone to blame, says Forbes, “he can start with himself”. When he was elected, federal ethics officials pushed him to pay his taxes, sell his property assets and invest in a broad-based tracker fund to avoid any conflict of interest. He refused. The tax bill would have been a hefty $1.1bn, but if he had ploughed the remaining $2.4bn into an S&P 500 tracker, his fortune would have ballooned to $4.5bn – 80% more than he has today.
Where there’s muck, there’s brass
🛢 ️📈 Hedge funds have been quietly snapping up shares in oil and gas firms spurned by more eco-conscious investors, says the FT. And with energy prices surging, they are reaping big rewards. “It’s such a great and easy idea,” says Crispin Odey, founder of London-based Odey Asset Management. Big institutional investors, under pressure from woke shareholders, are “so keen to get rid of oil assets, they’re leaving fantastic returns on the table”. His European fund is up more than 100% so far this year. “People don’t understand how much money you can make in things that people hate,” says Josh Young, founder of Texas-based Bison Interests, which invests in dirty energy assets. The firm is up 377% this year before fees, making it one of the world’s best-performing funds.
South Dakota, tax paradise
💸 🤐 The Pandora Papers have revealed that one of the world’s top tax havens, up there with old favourites such as Switzerland and the Cayman Islands, is the sleepy US state of South Dakota. As in most tax havens, says Axios, the hundreds of billions of dollars hidden in trusts there generate “no income tax, no inheritance tax and no capital gains tax”. But South Dakota goes further, allowing for “extreme secrecy” when law enforcement comes knocking and protecting assets from “creditors, ex-spouses, or pretty much anybody else”. By anonymously putting their cash in the hands of a South Dakota trustee, rich folk can deny any knowledge of their filthy lucre, while trustees can say it isn’t theirs – they’re just looking after it.