Behind the scenes in the White House, Donald Trump has become “obsessed” with Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who is the world’s richest man, and has decided to wage an all-out war against the online retail giant — but the real reason for Trump’s anger is the fact that Bezos owns The Washington Post newspaper, which has published frequent coverage critical of Trump, according to a report published Monday by Vanity Fair magazine.
Trump has posted statements to his Twitter account over the past three days accusing Amazon of running a “scam” that causes the United States Postal Service to lose “billions of dollars.” But according to the Vanity Fair report, Trump’s former economic adviser Gary Cohn had told Trump that his claims that Amazon damages the postal service are untrue, and that in fact, Amazon has been a boon to the U.S. post office which has suffered from drastically decreased amounts of mail sent within the country in the past two decades since email has become Americans’ preferred form of written correspondence.
But on March 6, as reported by CNBC, Cohn resigned his administration post, leaving Trump free to pursue his vendetta against Amazon, according to the magazine.
So far, it appears that Trump’s war against Bezos has been effective. According to a report by Money magazine, since Trump first posted a Twitter statement about Amazon on March 31, Bezos’s personal net worth has plunged by a stunning $16 billion.
Bezos, nonetheless, remains the world’s richest man, with a net worth estimated at $114 billion even after taking the hit delivered by Trump’s Twitter attacks on Amazon. The estimate of Bezos’s net worth is based primarily on the value of Amazon stock shares that he owns. But those shares plunged 75.35 points — 6.2 percent — in the aftermath of Trump’s Twitter statements accusing the company of a “scam.”
“He gets obsessed with something, and now he’s obsessed with Bezos,” a source told Vanity Fair. “Trump is like, ‘How can I f*** with him?'”
Trump’s own net worth is estimated by Forbes Magazine to stand at $3.1 billion, indicating that Trump is also wealthy, which is a tiny fraction of the fortune amassed by Bezos.
During his 2016 presidential campaign, Trump declared that his net worth was actually $10 billion. But few if any financial experts have rated Trump’s fortune as high as $10 billion, and in fact, a financial disclosure form signed by Trump during the campaign put the value of his assets at $1.4 billion.
Though Trump accuses Amazon of a “scam” that costs the postal service “billions,” experts say that the opposite is true. While the postal service, indeed, loses money every year and has for the past 11 years, the losses are due to the drop in first-class and advertising, or “junk,” mail — as well as to the steadily increasing costs of the postal service employees’ health care and pension plans.
Package delivery, driven largely by Amazon orders, has actually led to double-digit percentage increases in revenue flowing into the postal service. Federal regulators have consistently rated the postal service’s contract with Amazon to be a profit-maker.
But Trump is reportedly determined to force the post office to raise package shipping rates, which would be a huge blow not only to the company but to millions of American consumers who make regular Amazon purchases.
“Trump doesn’t have Gary Cohn breathing down his neck saying you can’t do the post office s***,” one Republican close to Trump told Vanity Fair. “He really wants the post office deal renegotiated. He thinks Amazon’s getting a huge f****** deal on shipping.”
Financial analysts have estimated that an increase in Amazon shipping rates charged by the post office could cost the company an additional $2.6 billion per year — a hike of about 28 percent which would likely be passed on to American consumers.