Wednesday, April 18, 2018
Business

For Bill Gates, Lou Pearlman and Donald Trump, a few notable days

We're rapidly closing on September's two-year anniversary of real estate developer Jeff Vinik teaming up via the joint venture Strategic Property Partners with Cascade Investment LLC, the firm handling a big chunk of the billions owned by Bill Gates. SPP, of course, is leading the Vinik-Cascade charge to develop 40-plus acres around Tampa's downtown Amalie Arena and the nearby Channel District.

The project is estimated at a daunting $2 billion, though that's a fluid number and could easily soar again in the coming years.

The good news is that Gates, who seems to have been the world's richest individual forever, continues to distance himself from his billionaire peers. When he partnered in the Vinik project in September 2014, his wealth was estimated as high as $82 billion. On Monday, Bloomberg reported Gates' wealth had climbed to a record high of $90 billion — a gain of at least $8 billion in two years.

Gates's fortune is now $13.5 billion bigger than that of the world's second-wealthiest person, Spanish retail mogul Amancio Ortega, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. At $90 billion, the net worth of Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, equals a remarkable 0.5 percent of U.S. GDP.

R.I.P., Ponzi schemer: Few folks envision meeting their end in a Texarkana prison, dying at the age of 62. Orlando's Lou Pearlman was famous for launching Justin Timberlake's recording career with 1990s pop sensation 'NSync and other boy band creations. But he was more infamous for his $300 million Ponzi scheme, scamming thousands of investors and earning Pearlman a 25-year jail sentence. After seven of those years, he passed away Friday of undetermined causes, though he had earlier ballooned to 325 pounds and suffered a stroke behind bars.

In a 2014 interview from prison, he told the Hollywood Reporter he was sure he could pay back his victims — if only a judge had not denied letting him start a new boy band and running it from his cell. We'll never know. Timberlake tweeted an "R.I.P" to Pearlman's passing. There are no retweets yet from folks he defrauded from Tampa Bay.

Trump lags behind: It's a good thing for Donald Trump that business economists do not choose U.S. presidents. The National Association of Business Economists in a new survey picked Hillary Clinton (55 percent) as the candidate most likely to help the U.S. economy. A self-described business phenom, Trump did not even make second place in the business economists' polling. How can that be in what is largely perceived as a two-person race for the White House?

Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson came in second in the survey with 15 percent of NABE members saying he would be best at managing the economy. Another 15 percent responded they didn't know who would be best or that they didn't have an opinion.

Just 14 percent chose Trump. Must be rigged. …

Contact Robert Trigaux at [email protected] Follow @venturetampabay.

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