Private Equity and Public Good

Source: Stephen F. Diamond, Dissent, Winter, 2008

The collapse of the credit markets over the last year has hit more than just the homebuilding and mortgage sectors of the economy. As interest rates increased, private equity, or “PE,” an important new form of financial capital, was also rocked on its heels. … Trade unions have an ambivalent attitude toward the rise of private equity. On the one hand, many American labor unions have representatives on the boards of the same pension funds that are largely responsible for the steady flow of capital into PE funds, and, of course, that means some union members have benefited handsomely from the funds’ above-average returns. On the other hand, over the last decade, organized labor has developed a relatively sophisticated program of investor activism through the Office of Investment at the AFL-CIO, the Capital Strategies Group of Change to Win, and similar groups at key affiliates. This effort relies on labor’s pension-fund investments in public companies to raise concerns about corporate social responsibility, excessive CEO pay, workers’ rights, and internal corporate governance. But labor does not seem to have made up its mind whether or not PE funds raise or lower corporate standards of behavior.
See also:
The Modern Corporation and Private Property
Adolph Berle and Gardiner Means

Private Equity’s Broken Pension Promises: Private Equity Companies’ Links
To Insolvent Pension Funds

GMB, a Central Executive Council Special Report, 2007

A Workers’ Guide to Private Equity
International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers Associations

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