The propaganda is real. Americans truly see figures like Gordon Geko as heroes. At this point, ‘Greed is good’ should be printed on the money because we have so internalized that message. Americans think making money automatically means bringing value.
And it could not be further from the truth.
All you have to do is look at the last forty years of uninhibited finance capitalism. From the Mike Milken days to the Savings and Loan crisis to the dot-com bubble to the Great Recession to today’s private equity leveraged buyouts. The American economic experience has basically been one grand case study to show that making mad quarterly earnings has nothing to do with delivering tangible value to the world.
Anybody can borrow a ton of money, buy a semi-decent company, lay off half the staff, make the rest work more for less, drastically reduce the quality, and jack up the price.
It isn’t genius; it’s criminal.
That’s the world we live in. Finance is everything. We’re worshiping at the altar of hedge-fund and private equity psychos and NEVER having a conversation about what their firms are actually doing to the companies they take over or if they’re doing anything helpful to society.
We only talk about the profits made and the bonuses given. We want to know how they like their toast and what they think about this or that social trend. We want to know their productivity hacks and the books they’ve read. It is absolute madness.
We don’t look at the details of what they and their companies do. If we did, we’d realize they don’t create value; they’re parasitic, and not only a little bit.
Leveraged buyouts: the Tony Soprano business model
Basically, leveraged buyouts are when a firm puts down a percentage of money, borrows a ton more, and buys a controlling stake in a company. It isn’t inherently evil, but in practice, it is usually destructive.