Thursday, April 4, 2019

the last book I ever read (The Fifth Risk by Michael Lewis, excerpt eight)

from The Fifth Risk by Michael Lewis:

Alexander had first assumed that the scandal was that Wilbur Ross was hiding money from the U.S. government. But after pressing the Department of Commerce to fill in the giant holes in Ross’s story, he realized that Ross had misled Forbes. For thirteen years.”I went back in the files,” said Alexander. “We [at Forbes] had [initially] counted the money that belonged to his investors in one of his funds as his own money. I was stunned that anyone had let that slide. He lucked into a way to be on the list, without deserving to be on the list. But once he gets on the list, he lies. For years.” The Forbes reporters were accustomed to having rich people mislead them about the size of their wealth, but nearly all of them had been trying to keep their names off the list. “In the history of the magazine only three people stand out as having made huge efforts to get on, or end up higher than they belonged,” said Alexander. “One was [Saudi] Prince Alwaleed. The second was Donald Trump. And the third was Wilbur Ross.”

The scandal wasn’t that Wilbur Ross was hiding two billion dollars from the government, but that he’d never had the two billion dollars in the first place. Alexander wrote up his findings, after which, he says, “I got a bunch of calls from people who had worked with or for Wilbur Ross, to say how happy they were the truth finally came out.” The former number-three man at Ross’s old firm, who had worked with Ross for twenty-five years, spoke on the record. “Wilbur doesn’t have an issue with bending the truth,” he said. This was the man Trump had chosen to guard the integrity of the data on which our society rests.

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