What went wrong with M&A

While I was a senior investment banker, I was vocal about how Wall Street Mergers and Acquisitions bankers and takeover companies like Bain were hurting the American economy by focusing profitability on a quarterly basis.  Three month profit targets are virtually impossible to meet unless you are cooking the books like certain companies that will live in infamy.

The net effect of this focus on three month or quarterly profitability regrettably focused management on short term measures rather long-term growth.  With the vultures of of the M&A industry (who also faced their own quarterly profit goals) circling the twisting and parched victims of so-called profit/loss targets.  As our industries could not meet these targets except to layoff workers and cut essential research a whirling effect was evident in the cesspool called profitability.  There was a sucking sound as jobs, livelihoods, American prominence in industry all were sacrificed to the Masters of the Universe.

As a result, jobs were lost forever, great companies like Westinghouse were slaughtered and their carcasses were dissected into so many cuts of meat and fed to the highest bidder.  In the interest of profitability, the jobs that were cut in America were shipped overseas to workers hungry for work and willing to work for far less than our folks in the homeland and often with little or no benefits.

As an investment banker, my objective was to create jobs by building essential industry and infrastructure.  I worked hard to see power plants, roads, ports and other major construction projects come to life here and abroad.  My reward for protesting the mindless dissection of our industry was to be told I wasn’t smart enough to understand how things worked; perhaps I didn’t.

Sure, I believed and still believe that easing trade barriers is essential to a safe and secure world.  But I do not see this as an invitation to come into my home and take everything you fancy and leave me with nothing.