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What if Romney ran the U.S. like a private-equity firm?

at 04:45 PM ET, 01/18/2012

ProPublica’s Jesse Eisinger points out that private-equity firms rely heavily on debt to amplify their returns. By that logic, if Romney really wanted to run the United States like Bain, he should be pushing the U.S. government to borrow more while it’s still a bargain.
Mitt Romney (center) and some of his colleagues at Bain Capital in 1984. (Courtest of CBS News)

It’s almost as if Mr. Romney never worked in — what’s that other phrase for private equity? — oh yes, a leveraged buyout firm. Leverage as in debt, debt and more debt. Debt amplifies the returns of L.B.O. firms. Indeed, they often saddle companies with extra debt precisely so that their investors can cash out faster, a technique Bain deployed under Mr. Romney’s watch.
L.B.O. firms certainly never think of debt as immoral. When the borrowing is good, private equity is going to grab the money. When Mr. Romney rails against debt, he is running away from his entire career in business....
“If debt is available to you historically cheaply, it almost always makes sense to take it,” said Shivan Govindan, a private equity executive for the Resource Financial Institutions Group. “Your capital strategy isn’t something ideological. You are going to optimize it for the best mix.”
So, by the logic of private equity, the United States government should borrow much more right now.

 
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