The Bain Capital Approach to Ethics


I am interested in taking a close and even-handed look at Bain Capital and the controversial attention it has received over this election year.  The organization interests me because I have a good friend from high school who interned at Bain Capital this past summer and an uncle involved in private equity. Ethically charged issues such as factory shutdowns and large bonuses surround Bain Capital and I am interested in exploring these issues and the ethical ideals tied to them.

Using Gale Global Issues in Context I came across a company overview that included the following article. The article addresses a number of ethical issues at Bain including the perception of partners as “corporate raiders” who “used debt financing as their weapon of choice to force old-line industrial companies out of complacency.” The article also focuses on the job creating aspect of Bain and the idea that “…if America is going to have a bright economic future, we must fight against complacency and nostalgia, and eagerly embrace job destruction as job creation’s necessary twin.”

A second source I will likely use in my research is Google Scholar. Using this search engine I came across a Rolling Stone article which focused on how “power-sucking cash value from even the most rapidly dying firms, private equity raiders like Bain almost always get their cash out before a target goes belly up.” Google Scholar also linked me to a Cato Institute article defending Bain and arguing “if one properly accounted for all of the jobs that were directly or indirectly created by Bain, by providing superior rates of return to all their millions of indirect investors, it would be far higher than the 110,000 direct jobs the [Romney] campaign is claiming.” Utilizing just the two of these resources has already provided me with a great deal of content to get started with!

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3 responses to “The Bain Capital Approach to Ethics

  1. I certainly hear Bain Capital brought up a lot during this election period, and I can’t say that I have any sort of background in private equity. All of those sorts of things scare me a little bit because of my lack of education on the matters. But one line that you brought up in the blog was about embracing job destruction as job creations necessary twin. I think that this is an interesting way of interpreting the ongoing arguments of job creation and the levels of unemployment in the country. Good point to bring up. As for the quote in the third paragraph about private equity raiders getting their money out before a target goes belly up, I am slightly confused. What I am getting from this is that these equity firms never get “hurt” when a “target” goes under. Any help on the matter?

  2. Good point Hunter… I believe the author in the Rolling Stone article is infering that Bain partners are often able to escape economic consequences when a Bain portfolio company goes under. When exploring these cases it is interesting how many of them tend to have sides both in favor and against Bain’s practices to the point of legal accusations.

  3. Good sources. FWIW, Cato is libertarian and usually pretty in line with Republican candidates, but not always (compared to Heritage, FWIW).

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