[OPINION] Friday Forecast: What’s Behind Trump’s Amazon Harrumphs?

by Rick Petry on Apr 13, 2018 11:49:49 AM e-Commerce, Retail, Social Media, Marketing, Consumer


One of the more bizarre aspects of the Donald Trump Administration, amid a carnival of oddities, has been the President’s penchant for excoriating publicly traded companies and their leaders by way of Twitter. No single company has drawn the ire of the Donald more than e-commerce giant Amazon and its chairman, Jeff Bezos.

Below is one of many examples:

Trump Tweet

Earlier this month on Monday, April 2, Trump’s anti-Amazon tirades caused the stock to lose 5% in a single day. While the stock has rebounded somewhat since its 30-day low of $1,353 a share to $1,448.50 as of yesterday’s close, it is still significantly off of its high of $1,606 during the same one-month period. The merit of many of Trump’s accusations directed towards Amazon, which include the above assertions that Amazon is responsible for sinking brick-and-mortar retail, destroying jobs and creating unfair competitive advantage, have been debated in the press. For sure, the habit of attacking American-built brands that have helped stimulate the economy and, arguably, job growth, seems strange coming from the fingertips and lips of someone who claims to be so pro-American, so one is left to wonder: what gives? There is no shortage of theories as to what is motivating this behavior. These can be counted among the more interesting:

Trump hates Bezos because he owns the Washington Post:

One theory suggests that Trump is going after Amazon because he despises the newspaper’s coverage of him and his administration. The POTUS frequently tosses the Post onto the “fake news” heap and has characterized it as nothing more than an Amazon-lobbying arm. Recall that it was the Post that was the first to release the infamous Access Hollywood videotape in the middle of the Presidential race, whereby Trump expressed a sense of entitlement mentality toward female genitalia that would have torpedoed any conventional candidate.

Amazon’s impact on physical retail has damaged Trump’s net worth:

Forbes has reported that Trump’s net worth has fallen by about $400 million over the past year. A major reason cited: a loss in the value of Trump’s Manhattan real estate holdings, which include many posh retail storefronts, that are part of the so-called “retail apocalypse.” This downturn in physical retail has seen some estimated 5,000 storefronts shutter across America in 2017, with more on the way this year. While there has been a steady loss in overall brick-and-mortar retail sales, online retail sales — which still only equated to about 10.5% of overall U.S. retail sales in Q4 of 2017, according to the U.S. Census Bureau Department of Commerce  — is experiencing all of the stateside growth. According to One Click Retail, no one has been a greater beneficiary of that spike in domestic e-commerce than Amazon, which it estimates has about a 44% market share of U.S. online sales. 

Trump really does care about taxpayers and ‘the little guy’:

Trump ran on the notion that he was a populist man of the people, therefore, pillorying Amazon for taking advantage of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) at the expense of unfortunate taxpayers no doubt plays well to the base. But as many pundits have pointed out, Amazon, like many other bulk-rate shippers, receive a workshare discount, the details of which are kept a business secret. The USPS is drowning in debt not because of Amazon’s use of it — which actually gives it more business and revenue. It is upside down because the Postal Service and its union has underfunded retirement entitlements to the tune of tens of billions of dollars. Furthermore, Trump’s assertion that Amazon doesn’t pay taxes is false — the online giant pays taxes in all 45 states that collect them. As for Trump, we may never know if he pays any taxes, but we do not how he feels about paying them himself, because he told us. During the first Presidential debate with Hillary Clinton, when she asserted he hadn’t paid any federal income taxes during certain years, Trump asserted, “That makes me smart.”

Trump (or his associates) could be benefiting from stock volatility:

When the most powerful person on the planet (sorry, Vlad) speaks, people listen. And react. A more fanciful theory alleges that the Twitter attacks could be driven not by merely a petty desire to tank the net worth of a rival, but to create stock volatility that others in the know can benefit from. Since Trump refuses to release his tax returns and has rebuffed calls for him to entirely divest himself from his business interests, who knows just who is benefiting from the tweet storms and ensuing fall out? Furthermore, if you are interested in economic growth and the welfare of your citizens, why would you willfully do harm to stocks that your voters are relying on for their economic security and retirement?

Since the current occupant of the Oval Office is fond of measuring things — say hands, for instance — it’s probably worth noting that in comparison to Trump’s estimated net worth of $3.1 billion per Forbes, Bezos is worth some $127 billion (which fluctuates 140 characters or less at a time on any given day). That’s a lot of dough that can be thrown against the wall of an opponent. No matter how huge that wall may be, throw enough at it and something is bound to stick. Given that reality then, this President, who often acts as though he is still hosting a game show, may ultimately find he’s the one, not his adversaries, who is left holding the Booby Prize.

Editorial cartoon above by Maryanne Scott based on a concept from the author.

 About the Author

RickPetry.jpgRick Petry is a direct marketing veteran of over 25 years who has been involved with campaigns that have generated over $1 billion in sales. He provides creative services to both B2C and B2B marketing campaigns and recent projects have included Actegy/Revitive, Education Connection, GOLO, Joybird, and OYO. The author of over 200 articles on direct marketing best practices, Petry has a Bachelor of Arts in Cinema/Television from the University of Southern California and an MBA with a Concentration in Marketing and Sales from Marylhurst University.

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