So, Um, What Is A Private Equity Firm?

Marilyn Geewax

itoggle caption David L. Ryan/Boston Globe via Getty Images

Before entering politics in the 1990s, Romney co-founded Bain Capital, one of the nation's largest and most profitable private equity funds.

David L. Ryan/Boston Globe via Getty Images

In the run-up to Saturday's GOP presidential primary in South Carolina, candidates have clashed over the role of Bain Capital — a firm that either creates or kills jobs, depending upon whom you believe.

Front-runner Mitt Romney sees the bright side. Before entering politics in the 1990s, he co-founded Boston-based Bain Capital, one of the nation's largest and most profitable private equity funds. He has said he created 100,000 jobs while at Bain.

But critics say that figure excludes

the legions of workers who were laid off by Bain. Candidate Rick Perry, who ended his campaign Thursday, had described Romney's work as "vulture" capitalism. And former House Speaker Newt Gingrich repeatedly raised questions about the firm's approach to job-cutting.

Before this controversy erupted, most Americans had never heard of Bain. That's because it operates in the private investing world, not the public market.

In the public arena, anyone can turn to say, the New York Stock Exchange, and buy shares of a publicly traded company. But in the private equity investing world, only wealthy individuals and large institutions, such as pension funds, are welcome. That's Bain's world. Here's how it works:

Heard On 'Talk Of The Nation'

Source: www.npr.org

Category: Forex

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