The authoritative exposé of private equity: what it is, how it kills businesses and jobs, how the government helps, and how we stop it
Private equity surrounds us. Firms like Blackstone, Carlyle, and KKR are among the largest employers in America and hold assets that rival those of small countries. Yet few understand what these firms are or how they work.
In Plunder, Brendan Ballou explains how private equity has reshaped American business by raising prices, reducing quality, cutting jobs, and shifting resources from productive to unproductive parts of the economy. Ballou vividly illustrates how many private equity firms buy up retailers, medical practices, prison services, nursing-home chains, and mobile-home parks, among other businesses, using little of their own money to do it and avoiding debt and liability for their actions. Forced to take on huge debts and pay extractive fees, companies purchased by private equity firms are often left bankrupt, or shells of their former selves, with consequences to communities that long depended on them.
Perhaps most startling is Ballou’s insight into how this is happening with the active support of various arms of the government. But, as Ballou reveals in an agenda for reining in the industry, private equity can be stopped from wreaking further havoc.
Brendan Ballou is a federal prosecutor and served as Special Counsel for Private Equity in the Justice Department's Antitrust Division. Previously, he worked in private practice, and before that, in the National Security Division of the Justice Department, where he advised the White House on counterterrorism and other policies. He graduated from Columbia University and Stanford Law School.