American health care's life-destroying "surprise bills" are the fault of local, private-equity monopolies

Surprise billing -- when your urgent or emergency medical care results in massive bills that your insurer won't cover -- are a life-destroying phenomenon for an increasing number of Americans, who not only can't shop around for an emergency room from the back of an ambulance, but who also have no way to learn in advance whether their visit will generate five- or even six-figure bills. Read the rest

The poorest half of Americans have nothing left, so now the 1%'s growth comes from the upper middle class

The Fed's latest figures on American household wealth paint a rosy picture -- in the aggregate. US households now own a record-breaking $107T worth of assets! Read the rest

Davos in the Desert is back, and banks and hedge fund managers are flocking to Mister Bone-Saw's side

"Davos in the Desert" is Saudi Arabia's charm offensive aimed at global financial elites, but its launch last year was marred by its close proximity to the gruesome murder and dismemberment of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, carried out at the personal behest of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who styles himself a progressive reformer. Read the rest

Thomas Cook travel collapsed and stranded 150,000 passengers, but still had millions for the execs who tanked it

Thomas Cook is one of the oldest travel agencies in the world, operating their own flights, ships, hotels, etc, whose founders effectively invented modern tourism (listen to this excellent Stuff You Missed in History Class episode for the fascinating and fraught tale of how that happened) but a consolidation in the travel industry combined with private equity chicanery that loaded the company up with $2.1b in debt in order to pay out investors drove the company to its knees, and, last week, it finally died. Read the rest

Gawker's new owners demand right to search journalists, ban encrypted email and institute dress code

After Deadspin's Laura Wagner published an incredible, brave, detailed look at how her new private equity masters -- Jim Spanfeller/Great Hill Partners -- were running Gawker now that they'd acquired it from Univision, the company (now called "G/O Media") struck back. Read the rest

How facial recognition has turned summer camp into a dystopia for campers, parents, counsellors and photographers (but not facial recognition vendors)

The Washington Post's Drew Harwell takes a deep look at the the use of facial recognition products like Bunk1 at summer camps, in a deliciously terrible piece that alternates between Bunk1's president Rob Burns and Waldo Photos's founder Rodney Rice explaining that everyone loves this and it makes everyone happy, and counsellors, parents, campers and photographers (as well as child development experts and civil libertarians) explaining how it is just fucking terrible, which Rice dismisses as "privacy hysteria." Read the rest

Barnes and Noble's new boss is James Daunt, who rescued the UK's Waterstones

James Daunt gave up a brief career in banking and opened a small, family-owned chain of London bookstores bearing the family name (the original store, in Marylebone High Street, is literally the most beautiful English-language bookstore I've ever set foot in); in 2011, he took over management of Waterstones, the UK's last, foundering bookstore chain, and effected a miraculous turnaround by devolving purchasing to the managers who knew local tastes best, ending the practice of soliciting "co-op" payments from publishers to order in and stock massive piles of their frontlist titles, most of which would end up being returned. Read the rest

Your massive surprise hospital bills are making bank for private equity

Private equity firms like Blackstone and KKR have acquired massive health companies like Teamhealth and Emcare, which bill out doctors to the hospitals they work for, taking those doctors out of the hospitals' insurance agreements and massively hiking their fees -- that's why when you go to a hospital, even one that's covered by your insurer, you still end up with massive surprise bills for your care. Read the rest

A deep dive into Elizabeth Warren's plan to tame private equity

Yesterday, I published a brief analysis of Elizabeth Warren's plan to close the loopholes that allows private equity to defraud investors, creditors and workers to make billions while destroying the real economy. Read the rest

Elizabeth Warren's banking proposals are designed to demolish the private equity sector and force finance to serve the people

Elizabeth Warren's bid for the Democratic 2020 presidential nomination has been dominated by a series of bold, detailed policy proposals that are designed to enact deep, structural changes in American law and policy to reverse 40 years of post-Reagan corruption and wealth accumulation by the richest 1%. Read the rest

LA's new homelessness stats reveal a crisis that is only worsening

LA has the nation's worst homelessness problem, a (literal) epidemic so terrible it distorts the national statistics. Read the rest

Legal threats force retraction of peer-reviewed article about the problems with private-equity-backed dermatologists

On October 5, the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology published a peer-reviewed article by Drs Sailesh Konda and Joseph Francis, enumerating the problems with the burgeoning field of "corporatized," private-equity-backed dermatology practices, often affiliated with private-equity-backed pathology labs, showing data to support the conclusion that private equity investment flowed to dermatology practices that were "outliers" in performing rare, high-cost procedures, including some that generated outsized Medicare billings. Read the rest

California ballot measure to reintroduce rent control met with millions in opposition from Wall Street landlords

California is one of the hot-zones in the world's urban housing crisis, driven by a combination of opposition to highrise/high-density living and the mass purchase of foreclosed properties following the 2008 crisis by giant Wall Street landlords who have steadily ratcheted up rents and evictions in a big to safeguard the flow of payments to bondholders who get a share of the rents extracted from struggling tenants living in dangerous, substanding housing. Read the rest

Exploring the ruins of a Toys R Us, discovering a trove of sensitive employee data

When the private equity raiders who took over Toys R Us, saddled it up with debt, extracted $200,000,000 and then crashed it, they took the employee severance fund with them, but that wasn't the final indignity the titans of finance inflicted on the workforce before turning them out on the unemployment line. Read the rest

Wall Street landlords are slumlords

Blackstone is the largest private equity fund in the world; when the 2008 crash hit and banks used the trillions in taxpayer bailouts to fund mass evictions of working people who'd been tricked into taking out predatory mortgages, Blackstone started bulk-buying them, creating rent-backed bonds (called Single-Family Rental Securities or SERS) that are the even-shittier successors to the mortgage-backed securities that detonated the world economy in 2008. Read the rest

GDP vs human thriving: a "healthy" economy means debt-haunted people, desperately searching for housing

GDP and stock market performance are the two metrics that economists (and politicians) use to measure the health of a nation's economy, and by those metrics, Trump is doing a hell of a job. Read the rest

Private equity bosses took $200m out of Toys R Us and crashed the company, lifetime employees got $0 in severance

Private equity's favorite shell game is to take over profitable businesses, sell off their assets, con banks into loaning them hundreds of millions of dollars, cash out in the form of bonuses and dividends, then let the businesses fail and default on their debts. Read the rest

More posts