When Donald Trump said last summer that "The hedge fund guys didn’t build this country, these are guys that shift paper around and they get lucky," he probably never imagined he'd be having such a hard time getting them to shift some of that paper into his campaign coffers.
As we've talked about before, El Donald is now in need of some campaign funding and with his general election opponent backing up garbage trucks full of money 24/7 he needs to grab large bushels of money as fast as he can. And no one got them bushels like them "hedge fund guys." So the Trump campaign hired a former hedge fund manager to run the finance operation, got a current hedge fund manager to hype it, and appointed a living hedge fund legend to its economic advisement team. Connections!
Filings made with the Federal Election Commission suggest that the Trump effort took in little more than $2 million in hedge fund money last month — and that the bulk of it came largely from a single donor, Renaissance Technologies co-chief Robert Mercer.
Robert Mercer is a typical hedge fund manager like Bjork is a typical Brooklyn mom, so let's not get hung up on how much money Robert and his daughter donated in July (Spoiler alert: as much as they could) or remind you that the Mercers are essentially running the show over at TrumpHQ these days. Let's talk about who didn't write Donald a yuuuge check to Make America Great Again.
Billionaire fund manager and Trump backer Carl Icahn appears to have given just $50,000 to the Trump effort — the cost of a ticket to a Manhattan fundraiser at the restaurant Le Cirque in late June… Paulson & Co. founder John Paulson, another hedge fund manager who has become an economic advisor to Trump, was co-host of the event, and he reportedly gave $250,000 to attend along with his wife.
50 grand from Carl Icahn is akin to getting a check for five cents from your grandmother in your birthday card. It's also not much more than he would have spent on a normal dinner at Le Cirque. And Paulson's check was solid, but if he's going to advise the candidate you'd think he'd do more.
But what with both Icahn and Paulson so vocal in their support for their candidate, there are obvious explanations out there for why the checks are not flowing in bigger and faster from the 2&20 crowd.
An assistant to Icahn said he was traveling Monday and couldn't immediately be reached for comment, and a spokeswoman for Paulson, whose reported June donation, made out to Trump Victory, couldn't immediately be verified, had no comment.
FEC filings show that Trump bro Tom Barrack (another economic team member) has gotten most of his guys at Colony Capital to max out their contributions directly to the campaign, so there is some life in Trump's hedge fund raising. One also assumes that Anthony Scaramucci and others will pump in a few more shekels as we get closer to November, but it is also kind of easy to see most asset managers leaving their check books in the drawer.
With Trump now polling very badly in most swing states, canny investors would be wise to hedge on him as an investment. Unlike politicians with - y'know - a future, donations to Trump don't look great on a balance sheet.
And what kind of major hedge fund manager worth his salt would plow a ton of money into a clearly lost cause?
Put your hand down, Bill Ackman! Haven't you been through enough?