As a consultant to the private-equity industry who believes in the power of free markets, this sounds heretical but: Sometimes profit and efficiency aren’t everything. Some commercial businesses should be valued for their social contributions.

While I root for job growth in Chicago and greater prosperity for all residents, I worry about the collateral costs. That’s why I’m hoping Alden Global Capital falls short in its effort to acquire the parent of the Chicago Tribune. The city and suburbs would be much better served by the competing white-knight investor Hansjorg Wyss, who says he supports the Tribune’s journalistic mission.

There’s always tension between the economic and civic contributions of big businesses. Companies must generate profits over the long term to survive and thrive. Competition weeds out the weak.

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Anthony Bahr is Managing Director of our Customer Due Diligence practice. When he's not advising private equity clients on customer risk, he guest lectures on consumer behavior and research methodologies at Cornell University, Loyola University Chicago, and the University of Pennsylvania.

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