Friday, January 25, 2013

Bloomberg’s Increasing Annual Wealth: 1996 to 2012 Plus Updates On His Annual “Charitable” Giving

How much will Bloomberg’s wealth go up?  Bloomberg looks skyward.. . . .The image above is from the November 1, 2012 press conference when, with multiple counties in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut declared disaster areas due to Superstorm Hurricane Sandy, Bloomberg couldn't have looked more bored or been more disrespectful to FEMA’s Secretary Napolitano, who was in New York to provide help.  See: Friday, November 2, 2012, Despite Expected Kudos, Bloomberg Tires of Hurricane Relief Administration Role: That, Or He Tremendously Disrespects Homeland Secretary Janet Napolitano.  Video is available on Youtube.
Groundhog Day (also known to some of us as the Celtic Midwinter Celebration), the midpoint between the Winter Solstice and the Vernal Equinox will soon be upon us.  That means that Forbes, in just a few days more, will be unearthing its new individual wealth calculations, and we will find out whether Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s wealth has again escalated by a startling amount.  In September we learned that Bloomberg’s wealth, as estimated by Forbes, had jumped from $19.5 billion in 2011 (and as late as February 2012) to $25 billion for 2012.

The 28% jump in Bloomberg's wealth in 2012 was ascribed to Forbes estimating "the growth of the mayor’s fortune based on a rise in revenue at Bloomberg L.P.", Bloomberg L.P. being the mayor's company that does business with virtually every significant business that interacts with the city in any way, important or otherwise.

So that useful background is available to everyone when the new figures are announced this seems like a good time to update how astoundingly Bloomberg's wealth has increased every year, especially since taking an interest in, and entering, politics.  See the update below (Forbes publishes figures in September and again in February):
1996 - $1 billion
1997 - $1.3 billion
1998 - $2 billion
1999- $2.5 billion
2000- $4 billion
2001- $4 billion
2002- $4.8 billion
2003- $4.9 Billion
2004- $5 Billion
2005- $5.1 Billion
2006- $5.3 Billion
2007- $11.5 billion
2008- $20 billion
2009- $16 billion (interim March figure)*
2009- $17.5 billion (A year of $105 million in direct campaign expenditures, plus. .)**
2010- $18.0 billion (Bloomberg surpassed by David H. Koch)
2011- $19.5 billion
2012- $25 billion
 * For more on how Bloomberg's wealth declined (because he didn't see the financial crisis coming?- And how the press missed it) see: Bloomberg Update: Fire and Ice (Sunday, April 12, 2009)

** Respecting this: Direct campaign expenditures were about $105 million. Bloomberg, in his three bids for mayor, easily burned through more than $250 million in direct campaign expenditures. Taking into account funds Bloomberg spent indirectly for political purposes you get into billion dollar figures.

*** Bloomberg was still reported to be New York City's richest New Yorker in March of 2010 but in September 2010 was surpassed by David H. Koch, one of the two equally wealthy brothers providing substantial funding to the Tea Party. It is to be observed with some interest that Bloomberg's accretion of wealth substantially accelerated when Bloomberg got involved in politics. In August of 2010 people began writing about how David Koch and his brother Charles were funding the Tea Party, which emerged starting in the beginning of 2009 (i.e. just weeks after Obama’s January 2009 inauguration.) Looks as if it can be very good for one’s financial status to get involved in politics! (Though to be fair the Kochs were involved in politics before the advent of the Tea Party.) The brothers' privately-owned Koch Industries is a diversified conglomerate that had its origins in crude oil refining and still has substantial investment in pipelines and refineries. Consequently, Koch Industries has a history of accidents, spills and pollution of the environment.

Noticing New York previously published and commented on running tallies of the mayor's escalating wealth.  See:  Sunday, October 16, 2011, Bloomberg’s Increasing Annual Wealth: 1996 to 2011 and Tuesday, February 3, 2009, Bloomberg’s Increasing Annual Wealth: 1996 to 2008.

Noticing New York has also reported on the history of the mayor's "charitable" giving, which is important because the mayor is at the very top of the list of such spenders in this country.  It also seems like a good time to provide updated figures in this regard.  The 2012 calendar year has closed, tax returns are due and new lists and information about what people have given and deducted will also be published soon.

Below in chart form is updated information about Bloomberg’s level of giving and the years of associated Bloomberg political campaigns. 
$26.6 million:- Bloomberg’s charitable gifts in 1997 (when he distributed to 433 groups). Handouts have increased every year since - Press mentions of Bloomberg philanthropy begin this year 
$45 million:- Bloomberg’s charitable gifts in 1998 - Year Bloomberg started talking publicly about running for mayor 
$47 million:- Bloomberg’s charitable gifts in 1999 
$100.5 million:- Bloomberg’s charitable gifts in 2000 (579 organizations)- Year before first mayoral election campaign 
$122.5 million:- Bloomberg’s charitable gifts in 2001 (540 groups) Was elected mayor in November 
$130.9 million:- Bloomberg’s charitable gifts in 2002 (655 groups) Became mayor 
$135.6 million:- Bloomberg’s charitable gifts in 2003 (653 groups) 
$138/139.9 million*:- Bloomberg’s charitable gifts in 2004 (843 groups) 
$143.9 million:- Bloomberg’s charitable gifts in 2005 (987 groups)- Second campaign for mayor in connection with the 2005 election 
$165.3 million:- Bloomberg’s charitable gifts in 2006. (1,077 groups) 
$205 million:- Bloomberg’s charitable gifts in 2007.- The year he started to run for president.- The year he left the Republican party 
$235 million:- Bloomberg’s charitable gifts in 2008 (1,221 recipient groups)- The year that Bloomberg started running for his third term as mayor and overthrew the city’s term limits restrictions.
 $254 million:- Bloomberg’s charitable gifts in 2009 (1,300 organizations).  2009 was the year that Bloomberg was elected in November to his third term as New York Mayor after spending approximately $105 million in acknowledged direct spending on his campaign (many multiples of what his challenger could raise from the public) and, in addition, Bloomberg's political aides (also holding public posts) get fabulously huge bonuses for campaign work.
 $279.18 million:- Bloomberg’s charitable gifts in 2010 - Bloomberg ranked the #2 American "giver", "giving" to "arts, human services, public affairs, and other groups".  2010 was the year that Bloomberg shifted his charitable spending,which had always concentrated on New York City recipients, to focusing on recipients connected to issues of national significance.
 $311.3 million:- Bloomberg’s charitable gifts in 2011 - Bloomberg ranked the #5 American "giver," "giving" to "1,185 arts, human-services, public-affairs, and other groups".

Early available figures coming out for 2012 giving don’t yet mention a figure for Bloomberg or where he will be in the rankings.

* (difference between Times and Chronicle of Philanthropy figures)

(Figures for calendar years1997 through 2008 available from:
•     the Chronicle of Philanthropy
•     Mayor's $weet Charity, by David Seifman, January 27, 2009
•     Bloomberg’s Gifts to Charity Exceeded $165 Million in 2006, by Diane Cardwell, September 17, 2007
•     Nearly 1,000 Groups Gain From Bloomberg’s Largess, by Sewell Chan, October 18, 2006
•     2003 tax year? For Bloomberg, 'Rich' Is Just Too Weak an Adjective, By Leslie Eaton, July 3, 2004.
•     In 2002, Bloomberg Lost a Bit (for Him) and Gave a Lot, by David Johnston (Correction: David Cay Johnston), June 14, 2003)
The 1997 through 2008 figures were originally consolidated to go along with this Noticing New York article about Bloomberg's "charitable" giving: The Good News IS the Bad News: Thanks A lot for Mayor Bloomberg’s “Charity” (Monday, February 2, 2009). For more on what those numbers mean in context click to read the article.
It is important to keep track of Bloomberg's wealth and "charitable" spending because Bloomberg is a public official and the earning of his wealth is subject to many conflict of interest concerns.  At the same time, cycling around, that wealth is deployed for political purposes that include the "charitable" spending above.  The charitable spending above does not reflect the non-tax-deductable augmenting amounts the Bloomberg donates to political campaigns and causes.

The news of what Mayor Bloomberg was `donating to charity' used to be big news in the local New York City press and it was clear that Bloomberg was pressing to get that information out to local reporters as part of his image.  Since 2009, the year that Noticing New York published a chart of Bloomberg's donations, that information has not been as readily available in the local press.  As you will note from the links for calendar years 2009, 2010 and 2011 above, it is still available.  Previously, news of exactly what Bloomberg was "giving" to charity would surface in news, usually reported in May, about Bloomberg's tax returns.

I am not sure whether there has actually been a change in what gets revealed to New York reporters at tax return time in terms of his business dealings or “charitable” contributions, but Bloomberg does not provide his actual tax returns for review by the public.  Instead he allows reporters to come and view redacted tax information for less than three hours.  No copying is permitted.

In early 2010 a New York Times story observed that the mayor doesn’t like talking about his money, although he “swells with evident pride at how his charitable contributions, topping more than $200 million a year [much closer to already topping $300 million a year by then], have helped to boost the arts in New York, and finance antismoking and traffic safety endeavors in poor countries.”  See: February 22, 2010, Bloomberg Doesn’t Want to Talk About His Money, by David W. Chen.

2010 was also the year that the mayor was taken to task in the spring because a 2009 tax return for one of his private foundations (which was subject to disclosure) showed that Bloomberg had offshore investments.  See: The Mayor's Money: Bloomberg Pressed on Offshore Investments, Saturday, April 24, 2010, by Bob Hennelly.  For more discussion of this, together with information about how Bloomberg was restructuring his giving patterns in 2010, redirecting it to national charities, and also information about the new board with political overtones Bloomberg set up headed by his First Deputy Mayor and chief political strategist, Patricia Harris, see: Monday, May 24, 2010, Looking a Gift Horse in the Mouth? An Examination of Brooklyn Bridge Park in Terms of the Politics of Development, Part I.

For a long time and until just recently, Bloomberg was not only the mayor but also the city's richest individual (now he is only the second richest), his wealth having skyrocketed after he announced his interest in politics. For more about the unprecedented peculiarity of that and Bloomberg's conflicts of interest as mayor while his wealth accumulated see: Thursday, October 22, 2009, This Is Rich! Looks Like Bloomberg is Making History and Sunday, November 1, 2009 Bloomberg vs. Thomson (54% to 29%?): It’s Not What You Think. (For Instance the “P” is Missing and What Might “P” Stand For?). The image above is from, and explained in, those posts.

For an older story about how the media is not keeping up with the story of Bloomberg's wealth, the conflicts of interests involved in where it comes from and his so-called "charitable" giving see: No Real Debate About It: Press Remains Way Off Track in Presupposing Bloomberg’s “Charity” (Friday, October 2, 2009)
For Noticing New York's remarks on Bloomberg's term limits extension see: Challenging Bloomberg Unlimited (Sunday, October 18, 2009)

The Occupy Wall Street protesters whom Bloomberg evicted from Zucotti Park didn't have a very good relationship with the mayor.  Many of the placards on display when you visited the protest were critical of Bloomberg, including the one below that suggested that Bloomberg be spoken to "about the looting." Conversely, Bloomberg was critical about what the protesters have to say.  It hardly seems as if much time has gone by since the mayor's November 2011 eviction of the protestors from Zucotti Park, but if the protestors ever retake the space their signs will need to be updated. With Bloomberg's wealth last estimated at $25 billion the sign below from that time putting his wealth at a mere $18 billion is sorely out of date.
Above, just one of the many now very outdated  Occupy Wall Street placards addressing the subject of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's wealth.
I thought it might also be useful to provide Bloomberg's wealth and "Charitable" giving information in another form, so below is a consolidated chart that shows both:

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