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  1. #1
    Senior Member Judy's Avatar
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    Aug 2005

    Trump expected to tap billionaire investor Wilbur Ross for commerce secretary

    Trump expected to tap billionaire investor Wilbur Ross for commerce secretary

    By Ylan Q. Mui and Robert Costa November 24 at 2:06 PM

    Wilbur Ross, the billionaire investor considered the “king of bankruptcy” for buying beaten-down companies with the potential to deliver profits, is expected to be President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for commerce secretary, two officials with knowledge of the decision said.

    Ross helped shape the Trump campaign’s economic agenda, particularly its hard-line stance on the need to renegotiate — or even withdraw from — free trade agreements. That position resonated with the working class voters who were instrumental in delivering Trump’s upset victory. Elevating Ross to a position in his Cabinet could suggest that Trump intends to nurture the nationalist streak that was one of the hallmarks of his campaign.

    In a video released this week, Trump said he is focused on creating jobs and reiterated his pledge to withdraw from the sprawling Asian trade deal known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership that became a flash point during the election.

    “Whether it’s producing steel or building cars or curing disease, I want the next generation of production and innovation to happen right here on our great homeland, America,” Trump said.

    In Ross, Trump has tapped a like-minded businessman who understands the prospects for both profit and peril in restoring American manufacturing. Ross built his fortune buying the distressed companies that were once at the heart of American industry — steel mills, coal mines and textile factories, to name a few — and then selling them in short order, making billions of dollars along the way.

    Perhaps his signature investment was the purchase of some of the nation’s largest steel mills in the early 2000s, including Cleveland-based LTV Corp. and Pennsylvania’s Bethlehem Steel. The move was credited with saving manufacturing jobs, with the United Steelworkers calling Ross “a new ally” in news reports at the time.

    Since then, however, many steel mills have shut down amid a glut of foreign production, much of it in China. Ross sold his steel conglomerate to what is now ArcelorMittal in 2004 for about $4.5 billion.

    Ross applied a similar strategy to other industries as well. His metallurgical coal company was headquartered in West Virginia, cobbled together from the remnants of bankrupt mining company Horizon Natural Resources and smaller coal companies. Shortly after the company went public in 2005, an explosion at its Sago Mine in West Virginia killed a dozen people. Ross sold the business to Arch Coal in 2011 for $3.4 billion.

    And in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, Ross purchased several failed banks, including BankUnited in Florida, as well as some European banks.

    More recently, Ross has invested in troubled oil and gas companies, taking advantage of the oversupply and weak demand that have tanked big-name businesses. He remains chairman and chief strategy officer of WL Ross & Co., which is now part of investment firm Invesco.

    Trump’s aggressive stance on trade includes a promise to label China a currency manipulator on his first day in office, as well as threatening to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement. In addition, Trump has called for double-digit tariffs on imports from China and Mexico. Many economists have warned that adopting those policies could spark a trade war that could undermine the U.S. recovery.

    “It’s conceivable that we could engage in some interventionist trade policy through tariffs and other measures that might help some Americans, somewhere, for some period of time,” said Michael Strain, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. “But certainly the country as a whole would suffer. … As your time horizon extends beyond a few years, it’s just going to be harder and harder to find anyone better off by those kinds of policies.”

    As head of Commerce, Ross would oversee many of the government’s disputes with its trading partners, though it remains unclear how much authority over trade policy Trump might provide him. Ross could ramp up the number of cases brought against China, for example, or increase the penalties for dumping, said Gary Hufbauer, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

    “I think they are in broad alignment,” Hufbauer said of Ross and Trump’s views. But, he added, “Ross is probably more single-mindedly protectionist than Trump.”

    In an interview with Yahoo Finance just days after the election, Ross appeared to walk back at least some of Trump’s remarks. He stressed that withdrawing from trade deals would only occur if other countries refused to negotiate. He also described some more mundane changes, such as relaxation of Chinese quotas on some American imports.

    “Everybody says, oh he’s going to slap 45 percent tariff on everything out of China,” Ross told Yahoo Finance. “That’s not what he said, and it’s not what he intends.”

    Previously, Ross warned that the economy could enter another recession within the next 18 months, especially if Trump’s Democratic rival Hillary Clinton were elected. He told Bloomberg TV last month that stock markets appeared near a top.

    “What we’re noticing is there is relatively little demand for any kind of physical product and almost nobody has any kind of pricing power,” he said. “At some point, you just can’t cut costs anymore and therefore you ultimately need pricing power and physical volume growth, and I think that’s what’s really lacking in today’s world.”

    Ross is a trustee of the Brookings Institution, a Washington-based think bank, and a noted art enthusiast with a taste for Chinese and Vietnamese works who boasts a $100 million collection of works by surrealist René Magritte.

    The Commerce Department is also responsible for compiling crucial data about the health of the economy, including the quarterly estimate of the nation’s gross domestic product, or GDP. It also houses the U.S. patent office and the Minority Business Development Agency, among others, and the department has often been led by corporate executives. Current Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker was a wealthy real estate investor whose family helped found the Hyatt hotel chain. Carlos Gutierrez, who served under President George W. Bush, was chairman and chief executive of Kellogg.

    No formal announcement about Ross’s position has been made, and the team was still discussing how to make one Thursday morning. Trump met with Ross on Sunday at Trump National Golf Course in Bedminster, N.J.

    Speaking to reporters after their meeting, Trump said he was considering Ross to lead the Commerce Department. Ross demurred when asked if he wanted the job.

    “Well, time will tell,” he said.

    Meanwhile, internal divisions within Trump’s inner circle over whether he should tap Mitt Romney to be secretary of State are becoming more pronounced due to tensions over whether Romney’s sharp critique of Trump’s career and temperament during the GOP primary ought to disqualify the former Massachusetts governor from a cabinet position.

    Conservative Romney supporters Mike Huckabee and Newt Gingrich this week spoke out against the possibility of choosing Romney.

    “I’m still very unhappy that Mitt did everything he could to derail Donald Trump,” Huckabee said on Fox News Wednesday morning. “He didn’t just go after him from the standpoint of ‘I disagree with his policy on immigration, I disagree with his policy on taxes.’ He attacked him on a personal level about his character, integrity, his honor.”

    Gingrich said Romney didn’t represent “the kind of tough-minded America-first policies that Trump has campaigned on” later Wednesday on Fox.

    Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, advanced those critiques Thanksgiving morning on Twitter, saying she had received a “deluge” of social media and private communications from Trump loyalists warning against the Romney choice, possibly opening the door for former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani or another candidate to be named.

    She added that former secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and George P. Shultz “flew around the world less, counseled POTUS close to home more. And were loyal. Good checklist.”

    Jonathan O’Connell contributed to this report.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member Judy's Avatar
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    Aug 2005
    WOW, a nice unbiased fact-based informative article by the Washington Post. Thank you Ylan Q Mui, Jack Costa and Jonathan O'Connell. Thank you very very much!

    I think Wilbur Ross is an excellent choice for Department of Commerce, because he is according to the article, if it's possible, "more protectionist than Trump". At this point with what has happened to our economy by the direct onslaught of free trade treason, one can not be too protectionist. We need it all back and we need it all back on the earliest date possible.

    He also has direct and investment experience with our key foundational "heavy industries", like steel, coal and oil and gas. These industries are so crucial to our economy and manufacturing base. Yes, they're heavy, they're hard, but without them and others like them, such as brick and cement and copper and chemicals and materials, our economy has no base, no foundation, no roots, no support to stand and function properly.

    This is truly an excellent nomination. The Commerce Department has been considered sort of a side-line department, with media and pundit focus on State and Defense. But our Commerce Department is truly our most important agency because without a good strong reliable economy, and policies that put America First, you can't afford the others.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Judy's Avatar
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    Aug 2005
    Wilbur Ross, Billionaire Investor, Is Said to Be Trump’s Commerce Pick


    WASHINGTON — President-elect Donald J. Trump is expected to select as commerce secretary Wilbur Ross, a billionaire investor who became known as the “king of bankruptcy” for buying, restructuring and selling off steel makers and other fading industrial companies, officials on the transition team said on Thursday.

    After choosing national security hard-liners for some of his earliest appointments, Mr. Trump is now turning to a group of ultrawealthy conservatives to help steer administration policy.

    In addition to Mr. Ross, a generous contributor to his campaign, Mr. Trump is likely to choose Todd Ricketts, a Republican megadonor who is an owner of the Chicago Cubs and whose father founded TD Ameritrade, to be the deputy commerce secretary, the officials said. And on Wednesday, Mr. Trump said he would name Betsy DeVos, a school choice activist and Republican fund-raiser, as his education secretary.
    Graphic: Donald Trump Is Choosing His Cabinet. Here’s the Latest Shortlist.

    Mr. Ross, 78, an economic adviser to Mr. Trump’s campaign whose fortune is estimated by Forbes to be $2.9 billion, is aligned with Mr. Trump on trade. He says the United States must free itself from the “bondage” of “bad trade agreements,” and he has advocated threats of steep tariffs on Chinese goods. Mr. Ross, the chairman of the private equity firm WL Ross & Company, has also pressed for cutting the corporate tax rate to 15 percent, from 35 percent, and reducing taxes and regulations on energy companies.

    During the general election, he hosted at least one fund-raiser for Mr. Trump at his home in the Hamptons. There, Mr. Trump, who at the time was pondering his choice for a running mate, turned his deliberations into a party game, soliciting opinions from the donors in attendance.

    Mr. Ross also owns a waterfront estate in Palm Beach, Fla., down the road from Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s club, which is expected to be his White House getaway, and where the president-elect was spending Thanksgiving with his family.

    If confirmed by the Senate, Mr. Ross would succeed another wealthy campaign donor at the helm of an agency charged with promoting American commercial interests and trade around the world. Penny Pritzker, President Obama’s commerce secretary, is a billionaire entrepreneur who was an early financial backer of Mr. Obama and is an heiress to the Hyatt Hotels fortune.

    Unlike Mr. Trump and Mr. Ross, Ms. Pritzker has been a leading proponent of forging new free-trade agreements. One of her top priorities was the completion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a sweeping 12-nation accord that Mr. Trump has promised to scrap.

    Maggie Haberman contributed reporting from New York.


    Geez, even a fact-based article from the New York Times. Thank you Julia Hirschfeld Davis and Maggie Haberman. Thank you very very much!!

    Can or will they return to good journalism? I seriously doubt it, but it would be a wonderful thing for our country if they did.
    A Nation Without Borders Is Not A Nation - Ronald Reagan
    Save America, Deport Congress! - Judy

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