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The commercial seems like an example of the old adage, "Be careful what you wish for."
Democrat Hillary Clinton posted the ad, which we caught on Instagram, on May 24 slamming Republican Donald Trump for saying he would welcome a burst in the housing bubble affecting real estate prices a decade ago.
"In 2006, Donald Trump was hoping for a real estate crash," it says, showing a picture of Trump giving two thumbs up. The ad goes on to list consequences from the Great Recession, which peaked in 2008. It lists 9 million jobs lost and 5 million families who lost their homes.
"And the man who could be our next president was rooting for it to happen," the ad contends.
That's followed by audio, identified as being from 2006, of Trump saying, "I sort of hope that happens because then people like me would go in and buy ... If there is a bubble burst, as they call it, you know, you could make a lot of money."
"If Donald wins," the ad concludes, "you lose." The Instagram description accompanying the video says, "Millions of Americans lost jobs and homes in the '08 crash. A man who hoped for it has no business being president."
We wondered if there was more to the story.
The Trump campaign didn't respond to our emails.
When we emailed the Clinton campaign, they sent us two links. A May 19 CNN story offers details of Trump's comment, along with context. A May 23 story from NBC News shows that Trump's remark wasn't a one-time affair.
His statement reported in the Clinton ad comes from the audiobook How to Build a Fortune, created as part of Trump University, which has been the subject of three lawsuits from former "students" who allege they were ripped off by the billionaire.
In 2006, real estate values had peaked and there was concern that they were overpriced, creating a "bubble" that could burst, producing a rapid fall in values.
The man interviewing Trump for the audiobook says, "There's a lot of talk, which you've no doubt heard too, about a so-called real estate bubble. What's your take on that pessimism?"
"Well first of all, I sort of hope that happens because then people like me would go in and buy. You know, if you're in a good cash position — which I'm in a good cash position today — then people like me would go in and buy like crazy," he says in a portion of the audiobook posted by CNN. "If there is a bubble burst, as they call it, you know, you can make a lot of money."
Whether the "bubble burst" that Trump was hoping for deserves to be called a "crash," especially a crash on the scale of what occurred during the Great Recession, is open to debate.
But it's important to stress that Trump was doing nothing than articulating an investment principle — look for a bargain. Good investors, he was arguing, should buy low and sell high.
More importantly, in the audio book, Trump immediately adds: "At the same time, I don't think that (real estate bubble burst) will happen because if interest rates stay fairly low, if the dollar stays pretty much where it is or even goes a little bit higher, but basically if you have a weak dollar, this is tremendous amounts of money pouring in, so I don't think that's going to happen. I'm not a believer that the interest market, that the real estate market, is going to take a big hit."
Obviously, he would turn out to be wrong.
A year later, in 2007, Trump was telling the Toronto Globe and Mail that he was ready to invest in real estate because the market was starting to head down.
"People have been talking about the end of the cycle for 12 years, and I'm excited if it is," he told the paper. "I've always made more money in bad markets than in good markets."
But, once again, it's clear that Trump didn't see what was coming.
The story begins: "Donald Trump almost lost his shirt 15 years ago when the North American real estate bubble burst. The 2007 version of that disaster will be much more benign, the real estate magnate predicts. . . 'We're talking very minor (problems) compared with the depression of the early 1990s,' Mr. Trump said."
The story said he was advising investors that there are now great deals in buying subprime mortgages at a discount and repossessed houses at low prices.
In short, even as the events that sparked the Great Recession were unfolding, Trump was not predicting the size and the scope of the economic disaster.
Clinton said, "In 2006, Donald Trump was hoping for a real estate crash."
He said on more than one occasion that he welcomed a downturn in the real estate market because it would give him a chance to buy properties at a bargain and sell them at a higher price later. That's the essence of profitable investing.
What's far less clear is whether Trump was rooting for something on the scale of the Great Recession, a suggestion made in the Clinton ad.
In fact, his comments in his audiobook and to the Globe and Mail show that he didn't envision the financial meltdown that followed.
Because Clinton's statement is accurate but needs clarification or additional information, we rate it Mostly True.
Email, Josh Schwerin, spokesman, Hillary Clinton campaign, May 25, 2016
CNN, "Donald Trump in 2006: I 'sort of hope' real estate market tanks," May 19, 2016, accessed May 25, 2016
MSNBC, "Trump in 2007: ‘I’m excited’ for housing market crash," May 23, 2016
Christian Science Monitor, "Timeline on the Great Recession," Sept. 8, 2013
Toronto Globe and Mail, "Trump touts soft markets in cities like Toronto," March 20, 2007, updated March 13, 2009
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