Derivative Damage – What Can Go Wrong When Private Equity Takes Over a Public Service

hqdefaultWhether you know it or not the derivative damage that caused the 2008 financial massacre and millions upon millions of foreclosures continues to plague America in ways that are unfathomable.

You can blame deregulation of the financial industry, too much dirty money in state and federal politics, outright bribery, a lack of moral and ethical behavior and a significant blur between the three branches of government that were originally designed to be oversight protection.

You may not know that the $700 TRILLION+ debt created on Wall Street took out (destroyed, eliminated, stole) billion$ of pension and retirement funds from nearly every aspect of government, trade unions and corporate 401ks to the point that severe cutbacks had to be made from furloughs to total haircuts… And now these lousy, corrupt and bribe-r-us bankster created investment vehicles have wiped out the futures of millions of American families – and many don’t even know it yet… but your politicians do.
See: The Sucker Punch – The Elite’s Attack on Pension and Retirement Funds

Not just homeowners are caught up in this financial devastation – it affects all walks of life. Entire cities have been destroyed, like Flint and Detroit, Michigan as one of many examples because there are not enough funds to correct the problems. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

And what are politicians doing besides lining their pockets? Raise taxes on the poor who can’t even find a job? Cutting their own salaries and benefits? Not. It is a disgusting situation – not just there, but everywhere. Can it get any worse? Oh yeah – just look at what selling off public services to hedge funds …or what sounds so much sweeter – “private equity firms” will do.

Fireman - equity firm

As the New York Times put it:

When You Dial 911 and Wall Street Answers… 
JUNE 25, 2016

Since the 2008 financial crisis, private equity firms have increasingly taken over public services like emergency care and firefighting, often with dire effects.

A Tennessee woman slipped into a coma and died after an ambulance company took so long to assemble a crew that one worker had time for a cigarette break.

Paramedics in New York had to covertly swipe medical supplies from a hospital to restock their depleted ambulances after emergency runs.

wolf LD moneyA man in the suburban South watched a chimney fire burn his house to the ground as he waited for the fire department, which billed him anyway and then sued him for $15,000 when he did not pay.

In each of these cases, someone dialed 911 and Wall Street answered.

The business of driving ambulances and operating fire brigades represents just one facet of a profound shift on Wall Street and Main Street alike, a New York Times investigation has found. Since the 2008 financial crisis, private equity firms, the “corporate raiders” of an earlier era, have increasingly taken over a wide array of civic and financial services that are central to American life.

Cost cuts, price increases, lobbying and litigation

Today, people interact with private equity when they dial 911, pay their mortgage, play a round of golf or turn on the kitchen tap for a glass of water.

Private equity put a unique stamp on these businesses. Unlike other for-profit companies, which often have years of experience making a product or offering a service, private equity is primarily skilled in making money. And in many of these businesses, The Times found, private equity firms applied a sophisticated moneymaking playbook: a mix of cost cuts, price increases, lobbying and litigation.

In emergency care and firefighting, this approach creates a fundamental tension: the push to turn a profit while caring for people in their most vulnerable moments.

Screen-Shot-2014-12-24-at-09.11.40For governments and their citizens, the effects have often been dire. Under private equity ownership, some ambulance response times worsened, heart monitors failed and companies slid into bankruptcy, according to a Times examination of thousands of pages of internal documents and government records, as well as interviews with dozens of former employees. In at least two cases, lawsuits contend, poor service led to patient deaths.

Private equity gained new power and responsibility as a direct result of the 2008 crisis. As cities and towns nationwide struggled to pay for basics like public infrastructure and ambulance services, private equity stepped in. At the same time, as banks scaled back their mortgage operations after the crisis, private equity firms — which face lighter regulation than banks, and none of their rainy-day capital requirements — moved in there as well.

The power shift has happened with relatively little scrutiny, even as federal authorities have tightened rules for banks. Unlike banks, which take deposits and borrow from the government, private equity firms invest money from wealthy individuals and pension funds desperate for returns at a time of historically low interest rates.

Since the 2008 financial crisis, private equity firms have gone from managing $1 trillion to managing $4.3 trillion — more than the value of Germany’s gross domestic product — according to the advisory firm Triago. Retirement nest eggs are fueling the growth and sharing in private equity’s risks and returns: Nearly half of private equity’s invested assets come from pensions.

“There is private equity — a lot of it — and it’s happening everywhere,” said Vikram Pandit, a former Citigroup chief executive who is now head of the Orogen Group, which invests in financial businesses. Across the financial landscape, he said, “New champions will emerge.”  Read more HERE.

bankruptcyAnd what happens when the banks hit the wall again and we have another humongous crash, as predicted? Well, if you are reading this blog you are an intelligent individual – so you automatically understand the fallout. That’s right, the private equity fund businesses go bankrupt. No pensions, no services.

It’s already happening – as the Times continues:

“Over 11 million Americans work for private-equity-backed businesses, and millions more rely on private equity performance for their retirement security,” said James Maloney, a spokesman for the American Investment Council, the industry’s leading lobbying group. Private equity, Mr. Maloney said, helps “advance both our economic and societal well-being.”

But the Times investigation of emergency services shows that hasn’t always been the case.

Of the 12 ambulance companies recently owned by private equity, three filed for bankruptcy in the last three years, according to public filings and S&P Global Market Intelligence, a research service that tracks over 1,100 major ambulance companies in the United States. Those three companies had problems that predated private equity. But no other ambulance company tracked by the research firm filed for bankruptcy during that period.

The latest blowup came in February, when TransCare EMS, controlled by the firm Patriarch Partners, filed for bankruptcy, closing its doors forever. One day, cities and towns up and down the East Coast had TransCare services; the next, they didn’t.

ITA_IconShield“Private equity has, in this case, threatened public safety,” said Richard Thomas, the mayor of Mount Vernon, N.Y, which relied on TransCare. “It’s not the way to treat the public.”

Patriarch’s owner and founder, Lynn Tilton, said in a statement that she was “deeply saddened by the unfortunate circumstances that triggered the abrupt end to TransCare’s operations and the heartache it has caused for many of its devoted employees.” She noted that TransCare, like other ambulance companies, “faced the obstacles inherent to its business model.”

Rural/Metro, long one of the nation’s largest ambulance companies and one of the few operators of private fire departments, did a tour through bankruptcy, although it reorganized and stayed in business. One private equity investor took Rural/Metro into bankruptcy, and another helped get it out. Continue reading the main story.

This isn’t just happening with emergency services. Many localities are looking to privatize their water, road repair, hospitals – turning over less than profitable areas to private companies because they can’t sustain all the citizens’ services – because due to bad Wall Street investments, gambling away pension and retirement funds – the states and/or municipalities can no longer afford to operate the agency companies. In comes the privatization [hedge fund] company promising $$ millions $$ to improve the facilities and operate the system which sounds marvelous – UNTIL Wall Street starts to tank, UK leaves the EU, the financial status changes direction and guess what?! Yup, bankruptcy. Dump the pension funds and benefits and reduce or eliminate the services.

shutoff noticeTake water for example. Your local water distribution is normally under county or locality management. They give you a grace period to pay the bill. Think about it like a leak in your plumbing that drove up the bill to $500 before you found it. The government supervised company would give you time to meet a payment plan before turning off the water. A hedge fund wants to be paid now! No grace, no plan – just cough up $500 or your water is turned off. This is what happens with privatization.

This is what happened to mortgages. Too bad if you got sick – no grace, a phony HAMP promise – just foreclosure. Privatization.

How do we correct it? It is not simple. But we can start with removing politicians that support privatization of public services. We need to protect our fire and police departments, our water, hospitals, and other services detrimental to civilized existence.

This is a personal opinion – but when legislators’ salaries and benefits exceed the minimum wage – we’re overpaying them. When a US Senator, who was a former university professor, can glean a net-worth of $7.5 million – that’s a bit much to be paying another $174,000 a year – plus benefits! Just tell me how a Senator can do his job while writing books and making speeches at $200,000 a pop?!

Want to work in Congress, or state legislature?

  • (1) Fix Term Limits;
  • (2) trim back the salaries;
  • (3) NO book deals until after the term limit is over;
  • (4) speeches and public appearances should be free and limited.

We didn’t elect politicians to see how rich they could get or how cushy they could make their Congressional positions!  Same goes for state legislators and county officials. We’ve allow the election process to become an industry that is out of control.

These are the people we elect who are gambling away our pension and retirement funds and selling off our public services to cover-up their incompetency, lack of consequence and bribe-r-us actions.

get-involvedGet involved before it is too late. Speak out when it looks like your state or county is going to sell off or dump a public service on a private equity firm.

Speak out and demand an audit to see where the funds have gone. You’ll be amazed.

4 thoughts on “Derivative Damage – What Can Go Wrong When Private Equity Takes Over a Public Service

  1. Virginia you are always on top the issues ahead of anyoneelse willing to admit and expose this crime. The domino effect of this crime reaches out to every person on the planet in one way or another. Thank you for exposing this and shouting out to stop the crime against all people on the planet. Unimaginable, unthinkable harm done by these crimal banks and all their enablers to sooo many people on the entire planet. God Bless you for speaking out for them, wither they understand or not. PEOPLE YOU MUST GET INVOLVED. VOTE IN A NEW PRESIDENT THAT IS NOT PART OF THE GOOD OLD BOYS AND DO WHAT YOU CAN IN ALL WAYS TO STOP THIS CRIME IT EFFECTS YOU EVEN IF YOU DO NOT KNOW IT YET.

  2. The willingness to risk lives for profit makes me wonder if our loved ones and our lives are viewed as our body parts being worth more money than our lives. The average bodies organs are worth more than our insurance pays out for most of us in an emergency. How far will these profit mongers go to make the most profit? Organ trafficking is a huge organized crime. If we do not make it to the emergency room our body parts are worth a lot of money. Think hard on that one. Especially if you are an organ donor. Scarey?

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