Sunday, September 6, 2020

Rubenstein's PEU Life: How to Greed

Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein authored the book "How to Lead:  Wisdom from the World's Greatest CEOs, Founders and Game Changers."  Rubenstein pioneered private equity, the practice of buying companies with borrowings and flipping them for huge gains on the initial equity investment.  He helped innovate the offering of additional debt for an affiliate company in order to pay Carlyle a monster dividend.  His achievements in the greed arena are not in his book

“I’m not a journalist,” Rubenstein says. “My job is not to ask questions that might embarrass somebody … people can judge whether that’s a good or bad thing.

“The people that I interview are people that I have known, generally, for a reasonably long time. So the appeal of it is they feel comfortable with me, and they might be willing to say some things they might not to a professional journalist. And here’s the cost of that: I won’t ask the embarrassing questions, because they won’t expect it from me.

Rubenstein does not ask the tough questions because he does not allow such questioning in his financial media interviews.   Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Rubenstein in a friendly chat:

Trump is “very focused on where the money is, and how we use economic leverage to achieve our diplomatic ends”.

Rubenstein has a laser like focus on the money, as well.  His ex-wife gave a less than charitable assessment while they were still married:

In 2016, Rubenstein gave the National Park Service $18.5 million to help restore the Lincoln Memorial. In private, Alice Rogoff Rubenstein has described those acts as publicity grabs and claimed all her financier husband really cares about is making money. 

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg quoted Judge Learned Hand:

‘If the fire dies in the hearts of the people, no constitution and no judge can restore it.’ My faith is in the spirit of liberty.”

Private equity crushed the hearts of many people.  Consider this 2011 statement from a journalist with a major financial media company.

I have seen so many people -- particularly those in their 50s - 70s -- taken apart by what has happened in their industry as greed has hollowed out the economy. These are people took pride in their jobs and held themselves to this invisible standard that we all just took for granted, but is being wiped out.

The Carlyle Group scares me more than anything I've ever seen on Wall Street. It seems to exist to corrupt politicians and it's hard to know who they even represent.

I watched a video interview of (David) Rubenstein and his arrogance is really beyond tolerance. He was going on about the debt ceiling problem and how there would need to be cuts in services and higher taxes. When the reporter asked him about tax on carried interest he turned really disdainful and said that this "only" amounted to $22 billion over some number of years and this was not serious money. Boy, nothing like everybody doing their small part to save the country from oblivion!

Carlyle's David Rubenstein fought very hard over more than a decade to keep private equity's preferred taxation. There is another book to write about the greed and leverage boys and the damage they've done to the spirit of our country.   

Rubenstein recently said private company CEOs are realizing they won't need as many workers as they once thought.  That is part of Carlyle's PEU insight, marketed as OneCarlyle.  Rubenstein ignored Yahoo Finance's Andy Serwer when asked if he would donate to any groups helping millions of unemployed Americans.   

For decades Carlyle has counted on the U.S. government and officials in both political parties.  The financial media learned long ago not to challenge Rubenstein.  His billionaire status, patriotic philanthropy connections and authorship have his face all over the general media.

I don't know how you write a book on leadership and. when asked. not eviscerate Donald Trump for failing to meet the basics of compassion, empathy, integrity and competence.   David Rubenstein can.