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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Private equity's assets under management hit new record highs in 2020, despite a fundraising slowdown.

Between the lines: Neither snow nor rain nor global pandemic can erode the mountain of dry powder — PE jargon for capital committed to funds that hasn't yet been invested.

By the numbers: Every data provider calculates dry powder a bit differently, particularly since many PE deal sizes aren't disclosed and others don't break out equity vs. debt. But, within these different matrixes, the constant is all-time records. For example:

  • EY reports that global buyout dry powder rose by 9% in 2020 to $865 billion, nearly half of which sits inside of mega-funds. Its figure has more than doubled over the past decade.
  • Preqin reports that the global PE/VC dry powder is at a record level of nearly $2 trillion, of which 25% is in Asia-Pacific and another 19% is in Europe.

Between the lines: The term "dry powder" is derived from musket days, when loose gunpowder had to be properly stored, lest it get damp and lose its efficacy.

  • It loses something in translation, particularly as more and more capital is committed but not disbursed. Fund managers can become tempted to lose discipline, thus reducing the efficacy of their powder, even if it was technically stored in a dry place.

The bottom line: More dry powder almost always results in more deals at higher prices, whether or not justified by the underlying fundamentals or overlying macro conditions.

Go deeper

Republican Sen. Sasse slams Nebraska GOP for "weird worship" of Trump after state party rebuke

Sen. Ben Sasse, (R-Neb.) Photo: Andrew Harnik - Pool/Getty Images

The Nebraska Republican Party on Saturday formally "rebuked" Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) for his vote to impeach former President Trump earlier this year, though it stopped short of a formal censure, CNN reports.

Why it matters: Sasse is the latest among a slate of Republicans who have faced some sort of punishment from their state party apparatus after voting to impeach the former president. The senator responded statement Saturday, per the Omaha World-Herald, saying "most Nebraskans don't think politics should be about the weird worship of one dude."

Cuomo barraged by fellow Dems after second harassment accusation

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo faced a barrage of criticism from fellow Democrats after The New York Times reported that the second former aide in four days had accused him of sexual harassment.

Why it matters: Cuomo had faced a revolt from legislators for his handling of nursing-home deaths from COVID. Now, the scandal is acutely personal, with obviously grave political risk.

2 hours ago - Health

Fauci: Children "very likely" to get COVID vaccine at start of 2022

NIAID Director Anthony Fauci. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Children under age 12 will "very likely" be able to get vaccinated for coronavirus at the "earliest the end of the year, and very likely the first quarter of 2022," NIAID Director Anthony Fauci told "Meet the Press" Sunday.

Why it matters: Children generally aren't at risk of serious coronavirus infections, but vaccinating them will be key to protecting the adults around them and, eventually, reaching herd immunity, writes Axios' Caitlin Owens.

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