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Professor Jonathan Lipson – Making America Worse: Jobs and Money at Trump Casinos, 1997-2010

Professor Jonathan Lipson’s working paper, Making America Worse: Jobs and Money at Trump Casinos, 1997-2010, caused enough of a stir when it was released in late September to earn a spot on the Clinton campaign’s website. Since then, the paper, which questions Donald Trump’s claim that his business success in creating jobs means that he can also create jobs as President, has become part of the national political discourse. Lipson has discussed his findings, and his theory that bankruptcy is the real model behind Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign, in a series of op-eds; his work has also inspired widespread discussion in a variety of noteworthy publications, which are listed below.

About Professor Lipson

Jonathan Lipson is a nationally recognized authority on corporate bankruptcy whose work is frequently cited by leading business courts, such as the Delaware Supreme Court, the Delaware Chancery Court, and the Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. He serves on the editorial boards of The Business Lawyer and The American Bankruptcy Law Journal. He has also served as an expert in complex reorganizations, including that of Enron Corp., and is counsel to amici curiae law professors in support of petitioners in Czyzewski v. Jevic Holding Corp., currently pending before the United States Supreme Court. An “occasional empiricist,” Lipson has established himself as a leading thinker on both the practice and theory of commercial bankruptcy. His most recent work, Making America Worse: Jobs and Money at Trump Casinos, 1997-2010, is exemplary of Lipson’s focus on research with practical impact.

Recent Coverage

Quartz (11/02/16)

Rather than focusing on the “October surprise” regarding Hillary Clinton’s alleged emails, writes Temple Law professor Jonathan Lipson, voters should be concerned about the “October demise” of Donald Trump’s last Atlantic City casino, which closed on October 10. Lipson’s working paper, Making America Worse: Jobs and Money at Trump Casinos, 1997-2010, explores in depth the roles that debt and bankruptcy play in Mr. Trump’s approach to business and, potentially, governance.

Temple Now (10/27/16)

A new study by a Temple University professor shows that Donald Trump’s casinos in Atlantic City lost more jobs and money than competitors’ casinos, while also going through more bankruptcies than any other major business in America. Jonathan Lipson, Harold E. Kohn Professor in the Beasley School of Law and a noted expert on bankruptcies, found that the Trump Taj Mahal, the Trump Plaza and the Trump Marina shed half their employees and dropped more than 40 percent of their revenue from 1997 to 2010, when Trump, now the Republican nominee for president, was chief executive officer, board chair and/or the dominant shareholder of each.

The Conversation, Salon, Newsweek (10/01/2016)

Temple Law Professor Jonathan Lipson analyzes Donald Trump’s business acumen in a new study, Making America Worse: Jobs and Money at Trump Casinos, 1997-2010. “In the paper, I compare the performance of his three Atlantic City casinos — the Trump Taj Mahal, the Trump Plaza, and the Trump Marina — against that of their rivals over a 14-year period. Even if one does not ordinarily vote on the basis of evidence, I hope that the details presented in my paper help clarify a critical issue in this election.”

USA Today, Washington Post Daily 202 (09/30/2016)

In an op-ed piece, Professor Jonathan Lipson connects presidential hopeful Donald Trump’s business record with his campaign strategy. “He is playing a very different game from what we expect in general elections. He learned it in bankruptcy proceedings. Having taken his Atlantic City casinos through bankruptcy multiple times, this is a game Trump knows how to play and win — at least for himself, if not necessarily for his companies or others who might depend on him. The process of restructuring troubled businesses such as Trump’s casinos is replete with posturing, table pounding, empty threats, puffery, head fakes and the occasional desperate gamble. If all that sounds familiar, it’s probably because you heard it from Trump Monday in the presidential debate. Bankruptcy could be the real model behind his unconventional political behavior.”

Wall Street Journal (09/29/2016)

“An analysis by Temple University law professor Jonathan Lipson ranked Trump-branded casinos ‘the worst’ among their peers when it came to jobs over a 14-year period. Mr. Lipson, a bankruptcy scholar, found that Trump casinos shed some 7,400 jobs between 1997 and 2010. That works out, on average, to job losses per casino of 900–37% higher than at other Atlantic City gambling venues in the same period…A review of financial documents from Mr. Trump’s casino days by The Wall Street Journal found Mr. Trump personally netted at least $135 million from his casinos, even as the entities he operated repeatedly sought bankruptcy protection from creditors.”

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