Largely unknown outside the financial world, an industry
called “private equity” is reshaping the American economy
almost daily, controlling a large and growing swath of U.S.
industry, including the market leaders in major industries.
“Private equity” is a broad term that encompasses a range of
strategies for investing in industrial and service companies
whose common stock is not traded on public stock exchanges.
While private equity runs the gamut from small venture capital
investments in brand-new start-up companies to multibillion-
dollar buyouts of well-known public companies, the focus of this
report is on corporate buyouts.
The private equity buyout industry, armed with more than a half-trillion
dollars of capital, is today engineering financial deals that together
are larger than the annual budgets of most of the world’s countries.
This financial juggernaut is generating hefty returns to its investors,
extraordinary riches for its executives, and newly relevant questions
about the impact of its business practices on American workers,
businesses, communities, and the nation.