NOTES FROM UNDERGROUND

November, 2008: Future generations – I write this from a high-security bunker deep beneath an unidentifiedWest Texas strip mall. Private equity firms have taken over America. They have cancelled the election and seized power in the White House, Congress and in the Supreme Court. America is under new management. And new management is charging a non-negotiable management fee to America.

April, 2009: With a heavy heart, I must report that the occupation has only worsened. The US Treasury has been depleted through a series of remorseless capital calls. The new overlords won't report to the citizenry what they plan to do with this loot, but for vague quarterly updates with diabolical prattle about delivering top quartile returns. In the meantime an ostentatious new waterfall has been installed in the lobby of the Pentagon. My small band of rebels are disheartened but steeling ourselves for an audacious uprising.

December, 2012: The struggle continues, but the rebellion has suffered great losses. Several of our former comradesin-arms have become traitors, joining with the private equity empire as special advisors and, curse them, as operating partners. The tactics we have entrusted with them have been turned against us to worrying effect. Unless we score a major victory soon the private equity domination of America will be complete.

February, 2013: Hope at last! Our double agents are seducing the enemy into a death spiral of unbridled and foolish greed. We have tricked the GP junta into a pursuing a “dividend recap” on our beloved country with a huge loan from an Eastern nation. The enemy is also seeking to seize a minority stake in Canada – that's called style drift. It has established a puppet regime in Mexico. How long can it be before the private equity despots crumble under the weight of their own hubris?

March, 2017: Tears of joy! The private equity empire has fallen! It has been vanquished with the help of a sovereign Eastern regime that we assume is sympathetic to our cause. Now on to our next battle: The Mother of All Clawbacks!

QUOTABLES
“My goodness. I've been in the business 35 years, and these are the most extraordinary events I've ever seen.”

Pete Peterson, co-founder of The Blackstone Group and former head of Lehman Brothers, in response to the events on Wall Street that saw Lehman Brothers file for bankruptcy and Merrill Lynch sold to Bank of America amoung other developments. Quoted in the New York Times.

“It was very emotional. A lot of people hugging, talking quietly.”

Lisa Hickman, manager of Emmett O'Lunney's pub on New York's 50th Street, a favourite venue of Lehman employees, following news of the banking giant's impending bankruptcy. Quoted in the Los Angeles Times.

“Experience Lehman Brothers: Make an impact. Engage your passion. Realize your potential. Around the world, the Lehman Brothers team is growing. Explore these pages to learn how you can build a career with us, and experience Lehman Brothers for yourself.”

Taken from the Lehman Brothers website 16 September 2008, a day after the bank filed for bankruptcy.

“No sir. I've been at this 38 years now. I've seen cycles. Chrysler has been knocked down but not out. I think the rate this has happened to the economy … is unprecedented.”

Robert Nardelli, chief executive of Cerberus-owned carmaker Chrysler, in response to the following question from Charlie Rose on his PBS talk show: “Have you ever seen an economy like this in your business life?”