cover image These Are the Plunderers: How Private Equity Runs—and Wrecks—America

These Are the Plunderers: How Private Equity Runs—and Wrecks—America

Gretchen Morgenson and Joshua Rosner. Simon & Schuster, $30 (384p) ISBN 978-1-982191-28-3

Morgenson, senior financial reporter for NBC News, and Rosner, a financial policy consultant, follow their 2011 collaboration, Reckless Endangerment, with a blistering critique of how private equity “extracts wealth from the many to enrich the few.” Damning case studies reveal how such firms as Apollo Global Management and the Blackstone Group have made billions by buying struggling enterprises and imposing drastic cost cutting to the detriment of customers and employees. The authors describe how in 2007, Apollo bought the Noranda smelting company in New Madrid, Mo., and forced it to take on hundreds of millions of dollars in debt to pay Apollo executives, cratering the region’s economy when the company shuttered under the weight of its debt. Detailing how firms stymie regulation, the authors trace how Blackstone funded a fake grassroots group that ran ads against legislation that would have reined in Blackstone’s practice of sending “surprise” medical bills to patients who used emergency rooms owned by the firm. Morgensen and Rosner excel at capturing the complex financial maneuverings in crisp, accessible prose, and horror stories about how buyouts shortchanged nursing home residents and life insurance policy holders drive home the callousness of the private equity business model. Fiery and incisive, this is an essential account of how Wall Street pilfers the pockets of ordinary Americans. (May)