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Donald Trump told The Wall Street Journal in 1987 he sold 'all' his stocks before the crash

Key Points
  • "I sold all my stock over the last month," Donald Trump told the Wall Street Journal a day after Black Monday 1987.
  • The Dow Jones industrial average had just crashed 508 points.
  • That was not the only time Trump has claimed to be quite the astute stock-market timer.
Trump told The Wall Street Journal in 1987 he sold 'all' his stocks before the 'Black Monday' crash

The "Black Monday" crash, when the Dow Jones industrial average plunged 508 points 30 years ago Thursday, was not that black for our president, at least according to an account he gave The Wall Street Journal a day later.

"I sold all my stock over the last month," the paper quoted Donald Trump as saying on Oct. 20, 1987.

True to form, the businessman then added to reporter Randall Smith, "The timing was no different than the Grand Hyatt — what do you think of it?" This was a reference to Trump's successful turnaround of the midtown hotel in the late 1970s as New York City was embroiled in a fiscal crisis.

The article did not offer any proof of Trump's sales.

This is not the only time Trump has claimed to be quite astute at timing the stock market. As a presidential candidate, his financial disclosure form filed with the Federal Election Commission in 2015 boasted of his stock market gains.

"Even though stock market purchases are not something that Mr. Trump has focused on in the past, and while only a small part of his net worth, 40 of the 45 stocks purchased went up in a relatively short period of time, creating a gain of $27,021,471, not including those stocks still remaining in the portfolio which currently have an unrealized gain of over $22 million," stated an accompanying press release with the form. In total, the schedule of stock transactions submitted showed Trump sold $94.4 million in stock in January 2014 for which he had paid $67.3 million.

CNBC's Michael Santoli (then with Yahoo Finance) pointed out at the time that it's impossible to tell whether that claimed 40 percent realized gain beat or underperformed the S&P 500 during this roaring bull market because no time frame was given for the purchases. Going by the makeup of the run-of-the-mill blue chips in Trump's portfolio, Santoli said it's more likely that he simply tracked pretty closely to the performance of the benchmark.

How did Wall Street miss the market cracks before 1987 crash? Here's how

The White House did not immediately return a CNBC email for comment on Trump's reportedly prescient 1987 call and whether the president believes it could happen again.

Trump's track record during other big financial market collapses is hard to nail down.

In 2006, Trump told CNBC at the launch of Trump Mortgage LLC, "I think it's a great time to start a mortgage company." That real estate lending firm would close a year and a half later as the housing crisis brought the economy to the brink of collapse.

To Trump's credit, he did tell the Globe and Mail in March 2007 before the housing crisis had truly taken hold that he had gotten the most "underleveraged" in his life, which if true, turned out to be a good call.

Also, we should note that Trump said in the 1987 article that the Journal republished earlier this week, "I think the market is going to go down further. ... There are just too many things wrong with the country."

That turned out to be correct. The Dow didn't recoup its losses from the crash until 15 months later.

The reason for his bearishness at the time may sound familiar.

He told the paper, "The U.S. cannot afford to lose $200 billion a year while Japan and Saudi Arabia are making tremendous profits and the U.S. is paying totally for their defense."

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