Mitt Romney once owned a credit-rating agency

Jesse Eisinger of ProPublica reports on Mitt Romney’s history with Bain Capital:

In 1996, an investment group including Bain Capital, the firm then run by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, sold the consumer credit information business Experian to a British retailer, making a $500 million profit.

Eisinger goes on to detail the shadier aspects of that deal and the lawsuits that followed. Feel free to wade through that if you like. I just want to highlight what I think is even worse: Mitt Romney once owned Experian.

For a small monthly fee, credit-rating agencies will allow you to inspect your report and attempt to correct the errors they’ve included in order to ensure that you’ll want to pay that monthly fee.

Experian is one of the big three credit-rating agencies. Credit-rating agencies rule your life.

Your “credit score” is used to determine how much more than Mitt Romney you will have to pay for mortgages and car loans and other forms of credit. It may also be used to charge you more than Mitt Romney is charged for insurance and other goods and services. And it may be used to deny you employment. The credit-rating business model is based on your score being both inaccurate and inadequate — deliberately so, or else the protection racket they’re running wouldn’t work. And yet the credit-rating agencies are largely unchecked and unrestrained in their ability to restrict your freedom and the freedom of every other American.

The good news for the credit-rating dependent (i.e., everyone) is that the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau is beginning to rein-in the unchecked abuses of the credit-rating agencies. The bad news is that if Mitt Romney is elected president, he will likely de-fund and de-fang the new agency, letting Experian, Equifax and TransUnion run their protection racket without having to worry about their “scores” being accurate.

Mitt Romney once owned Experian. Mitt Romney once owned freaking Experian.

* * * * * * * * *

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  • Nathaniel

     Doing sarcasm well, like all humor, generally requires genuine insight into other people’s thoughts and modes of thinking, as well as the ability to laugh at oneself.

    Therefore the results of your attempts are as surprising as fog in London.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I agree with our host and I agree with you. Romney is unsuitable to be president because he is just too damn rich!

    Warren Buffett is richer than Romney and, if Buffett were running for President, I’d probably vote for him. Especially if the only other choice with half a chance were Romney. Quantity of money is not the actual problem here. I admit the size of Buffett’s net worth is terrifying the same way the size of Romney’s net worth is terrifying, but Buffett’s never used his money as a weapon against people with less money and there’s no indication that he plans to, and Romney has and intends to go on so doing.

  • The Lodger

    One big strike against Buffett is that he owns the Moody’s rating agency, which is talking about lowering Treasury bond ratings the way Standard & Poor did last year. That’s the only major problem I have with Buffett, yet it’s pretty significant (and I’d vote for him for President over Romney.)

  • EllieMurasaki

    Did not know that.

    Also not entirely clear on what rating agencies do other than evaluate the quality of debt that governments are in.

  • Ross

     I think the thing Fred is trying to point out is that credit rating agencies are a big evil force in whose shadow we all cower. As far as they’re concerned, they OWN us.

    Mitt Romney, otoh, is the kind of guy who owns THEM.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    “I worked my way up, so I know how hard it is to be working class.  Let
    me help you out, so that some of you might become as well-off as I am.”

    The sad thing? Romney in his NAACP speech almost – ALMOST – sounded like that. Especially when he committed rank Republican heresy and admitted equality of opportunity doesn’t exist in reality.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    Canadian government officials, I am reliably informed by Linda McQuaig’s writings, have perversely been pushing ratings agencies to lower Canadian debt ratings since the 1990s.

    This has long been part and parcel of a coordinated strategy by right-leaning politicians to create a sense of crisis which the federal government “MUST ADDRESS” by, of course, slashing spending, not by raising taxes.

    I suspect Buffett is being asked to do this by some US politicians as part of the same strategy for the USA.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    Mitt Romney has also been manipulating journalistic perceptions of himself by suborning op-ed writers into failing to disclose that they were/are also his advisers.

  • Kaleberg

    The credit ratings agencies have the same business model as the old East German Stasi. They’ve got files full of dirt on everyone, some of it even slightly accurate, and they use said dirt ruthlessly.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    Mmmm. I would compare them more to J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI.