November 12, 2007

My How Things Change

I'm too young to have full knowledge of what I'm about to say, but for posting sake I'll count movie watching and book reading as "industry experience."

A common expression regarding leveraged buyouts is "cutting/trimming the fat." This references any unnecessary or superfluous spending within a company. Once the private equity firm has acquired the company, a significant amount of new debt is partially intended to instill discipline in the company's operations.

Because of their leverage they cannot afford bureaucracy and excess fat; they need shorter lines of communication to customers, employees, suppliers and other constituents. They need to invest their capital in highly productive assets. They need to address the very concerns that business critics have leveled at American industry in its recent years of decline. Because they have few near-term prospects for liquifying their investment, they must take the long-term view.
--Wall Street Journal, May 31, 1984

Fast forward to the height of the subprime fallout and halting of LBO deals and the expression suddenly carries the opposite meaning:

Compare that to Blackstone and KKR, which larded their deals with ever increasing amounts of borrowings until investors turned off the high-yield spigot this summer. Until that spigot opens again, big U.S. buyout firms will largely be sitting on their hands, not exactly a recipe for cranking out the profits public shareholders will expect from them.
--Wall Street Journal, November 12, 2007

I believe more profound shifts in rhetoric will surface regarding "sustainable" and "renewable" energy sources. Sure, corn and soybeans are renewable resources, but are they viable sources for renewable energy?

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