Monday, June 25, 2012

He's So Bain

Three stories in major U.S. newspapers over the past several days have examined Mitt Romney's experience running Bain Capital and they are all damning.

First was the Washington Post, which found that while Romney loudly laments the loss of American jobs to overseas and pledges to reverse the trend, he pretty much started it:

"During the nearly 15 years that Romney was actively involved in running Bain, a private equity firm that he founded, it owned companies that were pioneers in the practice of shipping work from the United States to overseas call centers and factories making computer components, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission."

The New York Times chimed in with an analysis of Bain's operations which showed that at least seven of the companies Bain took over failed, but that Bain still made money from them:

Mr. Romney’s experience at Bain is at the heart of his case for the presidency. He has repeatedly promoted his years working in the “real economy,” arguing that his success turning around troubled companies and helping to start new ones, producing jobs in the process, has prepared him to revive the country’s economy. He has fended off attacks about job losses at companies Bain owned, saying, “Sometimes investments don’t work and you’re not successful.” But an examination of what happened when companies Bain controlled wound up in bankruptcy highlights just how different Bain and other private equity firms are from typical denizens of the real economy, from mom-and-pop stores to bootstrapping entrepreneurial ventures.
Bain structured deals so that it was difficult for the firm and its executives to ever really lose, even if practically everyone else involved with the company that Bain owned did, including its employees, creditors and even, at times, investors in Bain’s funds."

The Boston Globe focused on one of Romney's big deals, which heavily involved him with junk bond king and felon Michael Milkin:

 "What transpired would become not just one of the most profitable leveraged buyouts of the era, but also one of the most revealing stories of Romney’s Bain Capital career. It showed how he pivoted from being a relatively cautious investor to risking his reputation for a big payoff. It is one that Romney has rarely, if ever, mentioned in his two bids for the presidency, perhaps because the Houston-based department store chain that Bain assembled later went into bankruptcy."

But what distinguishes this deal from the nearly 100 others that Romney did over a 15-year period was his close work with Milken’s firm, Drexel Burnham Lambert Inc. At the time of the deal, it was widely known that Milken and his company were under federal investigation, yet Romney decided to go ahead with the deal because Drexel had a unique ability to sell high-risk, high-yield debt instruments, known as “junk bonds.”

 Romney, meanwhile, once referred to the deal as emanating from “the glorious days of Drexel Burnham,” saying, “it was fun while it lasted,” in a little-noticed interview with American Banker magazine."

(An additional irony for me when I linked to for this story were the interpolated ads after the opening graph: the first was a solicitation to contribute to the Romney campaign, the second was an enticement to invest to get:  9.42% Annual Yield. 2 Year Term $1,000 Minimum. Not FDIC Insured.  [Emphasis added, of course.])

Rightists will snivel that these are libral lamestream media publications to invalidate the stories, but I'm afraid that isn't really enough.  The facts asserted will have to be challenged, such as mistakes or even deliberate misuse of Securities and Exchange Comission data--which wingers are intimately familiar with, since they--and the Romney campaign--regularly lie about quantifiable facts, let alone interpretations.   They've already attempted such with the Post story.  As of Sunday they have two more to deal with.

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