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Trump's economic team includes the billionaire who bet against US housing market

The most prominent name on Trump's team is hedge fund billionaire John Paulson who is best known for being one of the few traders who made a fortune off the Wall Street crash.
Photo by Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA

Donald Trump unveiled his team of economic policy advisors Friday, which includes five men named Steve, and poker player and hedge fund investor John Paulson, the short-seller best known for making billions from betting against the housing market before the 2007 crash.

Paulson became famous for placing big bets that subprime mortgages were about to fail en masse, and at one point was making $10 million a day, or $4 billion total at the peak of the housing collapse, according to the Wall Street Journal. A broker once called Paulson in 2007 to remind him he had an account with $5 million left in it — which Paulson had apparently forgotten about since it was such a small sum. His firm Paulson & Co. has had a pretty uneven record ever since.


The other 12 men on Trump's economic council are mostly bankers, hedge fund managers, an oil tycoon and a leading steel manufacturer. "I am going to be the greatest jobs president our country has ever seen," Trump said in a statement on a day the Bureau of Labor Statistics said the U.S. added a robust 255,000 new jobs in the past month.

The Trump campaign was quick to cast doubt on good economic news. "The economy the media and the Clinton Machine is describing is an economy that doesn't exist for most Americans," senior policy advisor Stephen Miller said. "It's an economy enjoyed by her donors and special interests, and one suffered through every day by millions of Americans."

Trump's economic team has only one actual economist on it. Peter Navarro, who has a PhD in economics from Harvard University, is a leading critic on US-China trade relations and endorsed Trump in March. Bloomberg described Navarro as "one of the most versatile and productive American economists of the last few decades," but is still somewhat unknown to the general public.

Trump's economic plan, like most of his stated policies, is light when it comes to specifics. He wants to impose tariffs on imported goods, cut taxes for corporations and top earners, while also not reducing spending on entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security. Moody's Analytics, a non-partisan economic research firm, examined Trump's economic policies and concluded that they would weaken the economy.

"The economy will be significantly weaker if Mr. Trump's economic proposals are adopted," Moody's report found. "It will be a difficult four years for the typical American family."

Correction: This article previously stated that Paulson had been featured as a character in the movie "The Big Short," based off the book by Michael Lewis. Paulson was profiled in the book "The Greatest Trade Ever," not the "The Big Short." The article has been changed to reflect that detail.