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Trump’s latest deal could set a high water mark for investment scams


Trump’s latest deal could set a high water mark for investment scams


Donald Trump in 2019. (Associated Press)

For a while there, it seemed that the SPAC boom had run out its string. Then came Donald Trump.

Already confused?

Let’s start with first principles. SPACs, or special purpose acquisition companies, are shell companies that collect funds from investors on the expectation that they’ll find a private company to merge into within a given period of time, usually 24 months.

It is never a good idea to invest in a SPAC just because someone famous sponsors or invests in it or says it is a good investment.

Securities and Exchange Commission

The wrinkle is that the SPAC doesn’t have a target in mind at the outset, so these are the blindest of blind pools.

The SPAC boom built through 2020 and through the first quarter of this year, peaking at some 300 deals in that quarter alone.

Many were associated with big names in sports and entertainment such as Shaquille O’Neal and Jay-Z, or political and business luminaries such as Paul Ryan and Sam Zell, the onetime owner of The Times.

By mid-year, the thrill appeared to be over. Since the end of the first quarter, only about 300 more SPACs have come to market, according to SPAC Research.

More saliently, investors have been pulling their money out of SPACs at an increasingly high rate. In the SPAC model, investors can bail, or “redeem” their investments, once a target has been identified. The average redemption rate in the latest quarter exceeded 50%, up from 10% at the start of the year. That’s a sign that…

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