Nov 17, 2019

Taylor Swift crashes 2020 race with private equity broadside

Photo: Zhang Hengwei/China News Service/VCG via Getty Images

Progressive Democrats are using Taylor Swift as political leverage against the private equity industry after Swift publicly noted that The Carlyle Group had helped finance a deal whereby Swift lost control of her old master recordings.

Driving the news: Sen. Elizabeth Warren tweeted: "Unfortunately, @TaylorSwift13 is one of many whose work has been threatened by a private equity firm. They're gobbling up more and more of our economy, costing jobs and crushing entire industries. It's time to rein in private equity firms—and I've got a plan for that."

  • Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted: "Private equity groups’ predatory practices actively hurt millions of Americans. Their leveraged buyouts have destroyed the lives of retail workers across the country, scrapping 1+ million jobs. Now they’re holding @taylorswift13’s own music hostage. They need to be reigned in."

My thought bubble: Private equity excess is a legitimate political issue, particularly when it comes to taxes and treatment of workers. But Warren and AOC are conflating those issues with what is essentially a contract dispute between a wealthy record label and its wealthy artist.

  • Carlyle used no debt to acquire its stake in Ithaca, which represents a minority interest without operational control.

Go deeper: Taylor Swift escalates battle with ex-record label

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How private equity is fueled by public pension plans

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Private equity's loudest political antagonists were back at it over the weekend, wrongly arguing that Taylor Swift's contract dispute is illustrative of the industry's rapaciousness.

What happened: While Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Alexandia Ocasio-Cortez each tweeted that private equity must be "reined in," they'll need to publicly wrestle at some point with how private equity is fueled by public pension systems that they otherwise support.

Go deeperArrowNov 18, 2019

The ballad of Taylor Swift and Kylie Jenner

Photo Illustration: Aaron J. Thornton/Getty; Angela Weiss/Getty; Aïda Amer/Axios

This was the week that Kylie Jenner ratified her billionaire status beyond any doubt, even as fellow 20-something Taylor Swift found herself continuing to battle The Man over rights to her own work.

The big picture: Jenner and her family have always had complete control over her image and her work product. As someone who made over $100 million by the age of 21, Jenner was under no pressure to sell the company that was generating all those profits, which meant that she could wait for a suitably desperate suitor to come along.

Go deeperArrowNov 21, 2019

House hearing on private equity lands with a whimper

Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. Photos: Sarah Rice/Scott Olson/Getty Images

Tuesday's House of Representatives hearing on private equity landed with a whimper, after more than a week of escalating rhetoric from progressive Democrats.

Reality check: Even if Sen. Elizabeth Warren wins the presidency, she would have a tough time getting her "Stop Wall Street Looting Act" through Congress, with or without Democratic Party control of both chambers.

Go deeperArrowNov 20, 2019