Donald Trump believes he is a financial genius, which is a problem

The scariest thing about Donald Trump isn’t what he doesn’t know. It’s what he doesn’t know he doesn’t know.

“I’m the king of debt,” he said Monday. “I understand debt probably better than anybody.”

He said this as part of his recent musings about the American public debt. In those musings, he talked up the benefits of restructuring in which creditors are paid less than 100 cents on the dollar, then said it’s “crazy” to think he would try to get Treasury bondholders to take payment haircuts, and then floated the idea of inflating away the debt, saying “you never have to default because you print the money.”

One defence sometimes made for Trump’s candidacy is that, while he may not know very much about the intricacies of public policy, he will surround himself with experts who do. Of course, one problem with this theory is that Trump has a track record of choosing questionable experts, such as his doctor and his lawyer.

But another problem is that Trump is unlikely to see himself as needing expert guidance on financial matters.

Why would the king of debt, who understands debt probably better than anybody, need to defer to experts in the management of the federal government’s finances? Donald Trump has successfully restructured many failing companies, sometimes using the bankruptcy code in the process.

He can bring the same magic to the American government that he brought to Trump Entertainment Resorts. He’s got this.

A total financial ignoramus might actually listen to smart people who say it’s a bad idea for the president to even talk about inflating away the debt. But Trump is the sort of egomaniac who would take a tiny piece of knowledge — borrowers that print their own money can print their own money — and use it to blow up the world economy.

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