Mr. Trump goes to Moscow

Trump commenting in 1990 on his visit to the USSR in 1983 or 84 [it was 1987: I got the date wrong in the original version of the post]:

Once you got to Moscow, how did the negotiations go?

I told them, “Guys, you have a basic problem. Far as real estate is concerned, it’s impossible to get title to Russian land, since the government owns it all. What kind of financing are you gonna get on a building where the land is owned by the goddamned motherland?” They said, “No problem, Mr. Trump. We will work out lease arrangements.” I said, “I want ownership, not leases.”

Heh, heh. Ownership my neck! It’s not 1984 any more (or is it?) and you still can’t buy land in Moscow. At best – I think the bill is still under discussion – apartment owners may be able to claim the land under their building as joint property. The rest is city or federal property – leased out for 100 years or something. Which means it can be taken away on a whim, like this. As the song goes:

But that can’t happen to us
Because it’s always been a matter of trust

Property rights are no guarantee against expropriation either, but they make your adversaries work harder on robbing you – sometimes it’s not worth the effort. And of course all this uncertainty means that investors require higher rates of return.

More from Trump’s negotiations with the Soviets:

They came up with a solution: “Mr. Trump, we form a committee with ten people, of which seven are Russian and three are your representatives, and all disputes will be resolved in this manner.” I thought to myself, Shit, seven to three-are we dealing in the world of the make-believe here or what?

You made my day, Sir. A solution indeed. I didn’t even suspect the Soviets were so much like the post-Soviets.

You can’t hate the man for stating the obvious.

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