WASHINGTON, D.C. — Donald Trump unveiled his economic policy team on Friday.
Perhaps not surprising given his profession, the Republican candidate for U.S. president tapped several real estate and private equity executives to help shape his economic policy.
Trump’s economic team will include Howard Lorber, chairman of Douglas Elliman, and Steve Roth, head of Vornado Realty Trust. Tom Barrack, founder of Colony Capital, Steve Feinberg, co-founder of Cerberus Capital Management and Steven Mnuchin, CEO of Dune Capital Management, are also on the team.
Mnuchin has double-duty as the Trump campaign’s national finance chairman.
Finance execs on the team with ties to real estate include hedge fund manager John Paulson and Federal Savings Bank CEO Stephen Calk.
It would be hoped by the commercial real estate industry that such a strong showing of kindred executives would translate into favorable policy. And, in fact, this could well be the case as more details about his proposed policies unfold. Today, for instance, Trump will make a major speech about his proposed economic policies in Detroit.
All that said, though, one can’t help but note that Trump’s immense popularity among the Republican base is due in part to his championship of populist issues. Some of these issues are not relevant to the CRE industry; some, though, very much are.
One example is the issue of carried interest. Trump has repeatedly said he would do away with the loophole.
His call to repeal the Affordable Care Act would likely adversely affect health care REITs that have made investments aligning with the act. Healthcare Realty Trust CEO David Emery was asked about a possible repeal under a Trump Administration in a recent earnings call. “There hasn’t been any specificity other than, we’re going to get rid of it. But as any kind of program like this that has become systemic in the system is not exactly walking over the wall and flipping the switch…” he said.
Then there is the matter of what Marriott International CEO Arne Sorenson called nationalism in a panel discussion at the NYU Hospitality Industry Investment Conference earlier this year. The emergence of nationalism around the world …”threatens the ability of people to move freely around the world,” Sorenson said, according to SNL Interactive. [Registration required for free trial].
“There are risks in the world, and there are risks we have to make sure we address, but those risks can also be twisted into tools which are about something else, and in too many places that’s happening,” Sorenson said.
Trump does have his fans in the industry, of course.
Respondents to a survey taken during the Republican primary season by the Chicago-based law firm Seyfarth Shaw selected Trump when asked specifically which candidate would be the best from an industry standpoint. Respondents indicated that Trump seemed to be the one who “understood my problems,” Ron Gart, a partner in the firm’s Washington, D.C. office, told reporters at the time.
And mirroring the sentiments of many Americans regarding this presidential election, there are those in the industry that are not pleased with either candidate.
Sam Zell, speaking at the the NYU Schack Institute of Real Estate’s 21st Annual REIT Symposium, used the word “idiots” to characterize the contenders on both sides of the political divide. As for Trump specifically, he is “a wild card,” Zell said.
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