Greed and Debt: The Mitt Romney Story

Matt Taibbi has written a cover story for Rolling Stone called, Greed and Debt: The True Story of Mitt Romney and Bain Capital. You really ought to read it. It is filled with wonderfully truthful and snarky passages like this one:

[Mitt Romney has] been right with [the other banksters] on the front lines of the financialization revolution, a decades-long campaign in which the old, simple, let’s-make-stuff-and-sell-it manufacturing economy was replaced with a new, highly complex, let’s-take-stuff-and-trash-it financial economy. Instead of cars and airplanes, we built swaps, CDOs and other toxic financial products. Instead of building new companies from the ground up, we took out massive bank loans and used them to acquire existing firms, liquidating every asset in sight and leaving the target companies holding the note. The new borrow-and-conquer economy was morally sanctified by an almost religious faith in the grossly euphemistic concept of “creative destruction,” and amounted to a total abdication of collective responsibility by America’s rich, whose new thing was making assloads of money in ever-shorter campaigns of economic conquest, sending the proceeds offshore, and shrugging as the great towns and factories their parents and grandparents built were shuttered and boarded up, crushed by a true prairie fire of debt.

My assumption is that Taibbi is an asshole. But I’ll take a thousand assholes like him rather than one “nice guy” like Paul Ryan.

Update (29 August 2012 5:46 pm)

Taibbi has written a follow-up article where he responds to a correspondent who emailed:

You’ve completely misunderstood what private equity does and ignored the many success stories in the industry. There is a reason why many of PE’s biggest investors are unions and pension funds . . . who have benefitted more than once from private equity deals.

It amazes me that anyone would respond to his original article with this statement. No one—certainly not Taibbi himself—is arguing that private equity companies don’t make money for their investors. As Taibbi points on in the original, they don’t actually perform any better than the stock market itself, and if it weren’t for the tax law favoring them, they would do much worse. But the argument that Taibbi is making is that in the process of making their mediocre profits, PE firms are destroying our economy and society. What’s more (and Taibbi doesn’t make this case here), those union members who are making money from investments in PE are by definition not the people who have lost their jobs through PE takeovers of companies.

Again, you should really check out this article. It is a bit long (8,000 words), but it is worth it. In fact, I’d say it provides the best portrait of Romney I’ve yet read. Disturbing but enlightening.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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