Awaiting Return of the Buyout King

Investment banks, suddenly the target of pitchforks rather than perky Ivy Leaguers, are defunct. Hedge funds are all but wiped out—some of the remaining ones still in the game only because they’ve refused to honor redemptions. Surely, then, private-equity, equally buoyed by lackadaisical loans, should be reeling too.

Debt, after all, remains elusive and pricey.

If you inclined to weep for multi-multi-millionaires, major investors in private equity, particularly big pension funds, are starting to trade away their capital commitments for eighty, sixty, even twenty cents on the dollar. C'est tragique! And perhaps worst of all, a large number of PE-backed companies bought in 2006 and 2007 are saddled with debt, much of it piled on cheaply, in Gordon-Gekko-sized portions, during the bull market. These teetering former giants will either gobble up more money from their befuddled buyout overlords or head south so quickly they’ll be written off.

So, yes, the whizzes at Carlyle and KKR, as Michael Wolff gloats in Vanity Fair and Andrew Bary argues in Barron’s, may be in quite a fix, even if they’ve so far seemed to sidestep the financial maw. Then again, although a shakeout (and shakedown) in the industry is probably underway—no bad thing when, over the past few years, only the top quartile of LBO shops has truly generated steep returns—private-equity will not vanish. The flush funds, few though they may be, will make off like bandits acquiring, for a pittance, somewhat blemished but generally well-run firms. Trafficking in distressed paper should also prove lucrative. And there’s always the frontier markets. Masters of the Universe, these days, are scouring Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe – seriously! – for deals. Investors are likely to hope that they stay.

Antimicrobial resistance is a growing threat to good health and well-being

Antimicrobial resistance is growing worldwide, rendering many "work horse" medicines ineffective. Without intervention, drug-resistant pathogens could lead to millions of deaths by 2050. Thankfully, companies like Pfizer are taking action.

Image courtesy of Pfizer.
  • Antimicrobial-resistant pathogens are one of the largest threats to global health today.
  • As we get older, our immune systems age, increasing our risk of life threatening infections. Without reliable antibiotics, life expectancy could decline for the first time in modern history.
  • If antibiotics become ineffective, common infections could result in hospitalization or even death. Life-saving interventions like cancer treatments and organ transplantation would become more difficult, more often resulting in death. Routine procedures would become hard to perform.
  • Without intervention, resistant pathogens could result in 10 million annual deaths by 2050.
  • By taking a multi-faceted approach—inclusive of adherence to good stewardship, surveillance and responsible manufacturing practices, as well as an emphasis on prevention and treatment—companies like Pfizer are fighting to help curb the spread.
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22 months of war - condensed in a 1-minute video

No, the Syrian civil war is not over. But it might be soon. Time for a recap

Strange Maps
  • The War in Syria has dropped off the radar, but it's not over (yet)
  • This 1-minute video shows how the fronts have moved – and stabilised – over the past 22 months
  • Watching this video may leave you both better informed, and slightly queasy: does war need a generic rock soundtrack?
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Bespoke suicide pods now available for death in style

Sarco assisted suicide pods come in three different styles, and allow you to die quickly and painlessly. They're even quite beautiful to look at.

The Sarco assisted suicide pod
Technology & Innovation

Death: it happens to everyone (except, apparently, Keanu Reeves). But while the impoverished and lower-class people of the world die in the same ol' ways—cancer, heart disease, and so forth—the upper classes can choose hip and cool new ways to die. Now, there's an assisted-suicide pod so chic and so stylin' that peeps (young people still say peeps, right?) are calling it the "Tesla" of death... it's called... the Sarco! 

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How to bring more confidence to your conversations

Entrepreneur and author Andrew Horn shares his rules for becoming an assured conversationalist.
  • To avoid basing action on external validation, you need to find your "authentic voice" and use it.
  • Finding your voice requires asking the right questions of yourself.
  • There are 3-5 questions that you would generally want to ask people you are talking to.
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