It looks like the unofficial mantra for the private equity industry, according to PitchBook's preliminary year-end data, was the old axiom, 'Everything is okay, as long as it is in moderation.'
Take deal flow for example. 2010 was up from 2009 but still well below the bubbly years of 2005-2007--which is just fine. Just take a look at 2008/2009 to see why. This year's deals also showed a much more moderate use of leverage, closer to a 50% level instead of the 70% level of 2006.
In the interest of returning to moderation, fundraising was down in a big way as PE funds continue to work through $485 billion of built up dry powder, and exits were up as firms work to return money to limited partners and reduce the number of aging portfolio companies.
Look for more details on these stats, as well as several others, in PitchBook's Annual Private Equity Breakdown 2011, which will be released next week.