Moment of Truth with Ami Chen Mills
What is "Private Equity” and What Are They Doing to Us?

Ami interviews Brendan Ballou, author of Plunder: Private Equity’s Plan to Pillage America in this show on the five-alarm fire sale of the “American dream,” good jobs, pensions and decent customer service to multi-billionaires in shadowy private equity firms. Ballou served as Special Counsel for Private Equity in the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. Previously, Ballou worked in private practice, and before that, in the National Security Division of the Justice Department.  His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Atlantic, and the Nation.

In this episode we cover:

  • How private equity forces land sales (“lease buybacks”) upon the companies it buys
  • How private equity shields itself from liability and risk, while pushing risk onto taxpayers
  • Private equity’s use of bankruptcy and pension plunder for maximum profits
  • The loss of U.S. single family homes to private equity real estate and rental companies
  • What happened to PetSmart, Hertz, Payless Shoes and ShopCo?
  • How private equity is creating early death in nursing homes across the U.S.
  • How the “other half lives”—hedonistic pool parties and a $10-million tab for executive birthdays with Gwen Stefani and the cast of Jersey Boys.
  • How can private equity be reigned in and what can we do on the local level?


Ami mistakenly said “California’s 30th District” to refer to Representative Jimmy Panetta’s district on the California Central Coast, after referring to Panetta’s father, Leon Panetta, as someone who moved from the federal government into private equity. Jimmy Panetta’s district is 19, not 30.

Show Notes and Updates:

Greystar, which manages multiple properties across the Santa Cruz County area, is, indeed a private equity firm, as are many other property owners:

The University of California system invested $4.5 billion in the private equity firm Blackstone in 2023. See links below:

Private Equity in the 1980s:

Who is “Beatrice”?

The True and Sad Story of Beatrice (finally bought by the private equity firm KKR):

Buy the book Plunder, by Brendan Ballou

Another excellent book on private equity:

CEO of Blackstone Steven Schwarzman seems to swing back to Trump support: