Monday, January 23, 2012

WSJ: Bain Saved America In The 1980s

The Wall Street Journal has an article explaining how private equity firms like Bain helped saved America during the 1980s:
Not only did Bain Capital save America, but no matter what turn Mitt Romney's political career takes, Bain Capital may stand as the best of Mr. Romney's lifetime contributions to the nation's economic well-being. If only he'd tell the story.
We are of course putting forth "Bain Capital" as not merely the Romney private-equity house but as the stand-in for the period of American economic history that ran from 1980 to 1989. Back then it was called the Greed Decade, with asset-stripping barbarians at the gate. Virtually everything about this popular stereotype is wrong. Properly understood, the 1980s, including Bain, were the remarkable years when an ever-resilient America found a way to save itself from becoming what Europe is now—a global has-been. 
Arguably, the primary force that set off the 1980s upheaval in U.S. corporate restructuring was the deregulation begun by Jimmy Carter and continued by Ronald Reagan. Airlines, ground transportation, cable and broadcasting, oil and gas, banking and financial services all experienced regulatory rollback. Meanwhile, a competitive, globalized marketplace was rising. Management at some of America's biggest companies, confused by these rapid changes, found themselves sitting on huge piles of unused or poorly deployed cash and assets.
Thousands of Mitt Romneys allied with huge pension funds representing colleges, unions and the like, plus a rising cadre of institutional money managers, to force corporate America to reboot. In the 1980s almost half of major U.S. corporations got takeover offers.
Singling out this or that Bain case study amid the jostling and bumping is pointless. This was a historic and necessary cleansing of the Augean stables of the American economy. It caused a positive revolution in U.S. management, financial analysis, incentives, governance and market-based discipline. It led directly to the 1990s boom years. And it gave the U.S. two decades of breathing room while Europe, with some exceptions, choked. 
Obviously, Bain didn't single handedly save America but the private equity firms did of which Romney's company was among many firms that helped America revitalize its businesses by forcing them to reform, restructure, evolve and slim down. 
We need a candidate who will reduce the size and scope of government and create an atmosphere were businesses can grow or reform and revitalize itself. If you want to return to another economic boom of prosperity similar to the one America experienced in the 1980s, then Mitt Romney is your candidate.

1 comment:

  1. While maintaining an lean, efficient organization and periodically evaluating the efficacy of the services offered is just as important in the government as it is in the private sector, the "Running Government as a Business" mantra only goes so far. Government isnt a business and is tasked with carrying out many roles the private sector cannot or will not do.

    While I understand the role the Bain Capitals played in the economy, running on that isnt so great as it opens up Mitt to all the negatives as well. It may be the "creative destruction" that makes up a dynamic economy but it also resulted in job loss and personal disruption. It's difficult to sell any treatment with tangible near term costs in exchange for intangible long term gains. Look at the how environmental legislation/regulation dogs Democrats. Sure in the long run, a cleaner environment benefits all but in the near term people lose jobs and everyone else pays higher prices.

    Mitt needs to change the subject when ever possible. It's impossible to selectively take the positives on this issue without accepting the negatives. Better bet is talk about managing the Olympics and MA state government, both of which are actually more germane to running the federal bureaucracy anyway.