These Are the Plunderers: How Private Equity Runs—and Wrecks—America (Hardcover)
On Our Shelves Now
WALL STREET JOURNAL BESTSELLER
Pulitzer Prize–winning and New York Times bestselling financial journalist Gretchen Morgenson and financial policy analyst Joshua Rosner investigate the insidious world of private equity, revealing how it leeches profits from everyday Americans, tanks the companies it acquires, and puts our entire economic system at risk.
Much has been written about the widening gulf between rich and poor, the pernicious effects our deepening income inequality has on the US’s well-being, and how our style of capitalism has failed to provide a living wage for so many Americans. But nothing has fully detailed the crucial role a small cohort of elite financiers has played in this dispiriting outcome over the past thirty years. Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and bestselling author Gretchen Morgenson, with coauthor Joshua Rosner, unmask the small group of celebrated Wall Street financiers, and their government enablers, who use excessive debt and dubious practices to undermine our nation’s economy for their own enrichment: private equity.
These are the Plunderers lucidly and maddeningly traces the thirty-year history of corporate takeovers in America and private equity’s increasing dominance. Morgenson and Rosner investigate some of the biggest names in private equity, exposing how they buy companies, load them with debt, and then bleed them of assets and profits. All while prosecutors and regulators stand idle.
Morgenson and Rosner show how companies absorbed by private equity have worse outcomes for everyone but the financiers: employees are more likely to lose their jobs or their benefits; companies are more likely to go bankrupt; patients are more likely to have higher healthcare costs; residents of nursing homes are more likely to die; towns struggle when private equity buys the main businesses, crippling the local economy; andschool teachers, firefighters, medical technicians, and other public workers are more likely to have lower returns on their pensions because of the fees private equity extracts from their investments. In other words: we are all worse off because of private equity.
These are the Plunderers exposes the greed and pillaging in private equity, revealing the many ways these billionaires have bled our economy, and, in turn, us.
About the Author
Gretchen Morgenson is the senior financial reporter for the NBC News Investigative Unit. A former stockbroker, she won the Pulitzer Prize in 2002 for her “trenchant and incisive” reporting on Wall Street. Previously at The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, she and coauthor Joshua Rosner wrote the New York Times bestseller Reckless Endangerment: How Outsized Ambition, Greed, and Corruption Led to Economic Armageddon about the mortgage crisis.
Joshua Rosner is managing director at independent research consultancy Graham Fisher and Co., advising regulators, policymakers, and institutional investors on banking and financial markets. He has been interviewed on PBS, CBS, NBC, CNN, Bloomberg, CNBC, and Fox News, and featured in or written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, Economist, Barron’s, and HuffPost. Joshua is the coauthor of the New York Times bestseller Reckless Endangerment with Gretchen Morgenson.
“Damning…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.”
—Publishers Weekly, *starred review*
“Readers will be drawn into the duo’s storytelling, and even those who aren’t financially savvy will be able to grasp the topic. It’s a must-read for all for help in understanding a different side of capitalism.”
—Booklist, *starred review*
“As Gretchen Morgenson and Joshua Rosner so lucidly explain, these ‘modern privateers’ simply act as dealers reshuffling marked cards in the deck of American capitalism. In the high stakes game they're playing, it's a deck that's stacked against the rest of us.”
“The troubled story of private equity, which is anything but equitable…. A well-documented, maddening book that cries out for legislative reform and regulation.”
“A meticulous and devastating takedown of a powerful force in Western capitalism, infused with just the right amount of indignation at how the powerless bear most of the awful burden.”
—Brad Stone, author of Amazon Unbound and The Everything Store
“This is the fourth estate working at its best: explaining to readers an ever-growing number of examples where private equity has extracted wealth, not created it, for the benefit of a privileged few. Done right, PE can play a positive role in our economy. Done wrong, its consequences are ruinous as demonstrated in this must-read book.”
—Sheila Bair, former chair of the FDIC and author of New York Times bestseller Bull by the Horns
“These Are the Plunderers is a masterpiece of investigative journalism. Morgenson and Rosner expose nothing less than an organized, merciless, and astoundingly profitable attack on America’s middle class. If you want to understand why Wall Street is booming, good jobs are disappearing, and venerable companies are collapsing, the story is all here. This book names the names and follows the money.”
—Christopher Leonard, New York Times bestselling author of Kochland and The Lords of Easy Money
“A critical and urgent look behind the scenes at the characters and mechanics that increasingly dictate our systems of influence, power, and money. Morgenson and Rosner make the complex legible—and the stakes couldn’t be higher.”
—Mary Childs, co-host of NPR’s “Planet Money” and author of The Bond King
“[A] definitive, inside story of how our winner-take-all economy came to be. The private equity billionaires you’ll meet on these fascinating pages are the new robber barons. While the watchdogs were asleep, this investigative journalist and policy analyst show how they plundered America and, at last, hold them accountable. Ida Tarbell would sure be proud of them.”
—Jill Abramson, author of Merchants of Truth and former executive editor of The New York Times