David Dayen

David Dayen is a contributing writer to Salon.com who also writes for The InterceptThe New Republic, and The Fiscal Times. His first book, Chain of Title, about three ordinary Americans who uncover Wall Street's foreclosure fraud, was released by The New Press on May 17, 2016.

Recent Articles

Rough Roads Ahead if California Voters Repeal Their Gas Tax

Beyond jeopardizing road repairs and mass transit, Prop. 6 would strike at the very nature of governance itself in the Golden State. 

AP Photo/Richard Vogel Gasoline prices are displayed atop a 76 Station near downtown Los Angeles. Capital & Main is an award-winning publication that reports from California on economic, political and social issues. The American Prospect is co-publishing this piece. S tate legislatures are required to balance budgets. When there’s a shortfall, they have two options to bring things back into equilibrium: Raise taxes, or cut spending. Long ago, California's anti-tax conservatives set up barriers to raising taxes, forcing a two-thirds majority in the legislature for any tax increases. Despite this high bar, Democrats managed to find the votes last year for Senate Bill 1, increasing gas and vehicle taxes to fund the state’s crumbling transportation infrastructure. In other words, Democrats played by the rules. They won elections, acquired a supermajority, and used it in the manner prescribed by state law to fund a public need. Now conservatives want to roll that back as well...

How Sears Was Gutted By Its Own CEO

Eddie Lampert not only ran the company; he was also its largest creditor and the guy who sold major Sears assets to … Eddie Lampert.

(AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File)
(AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File) Sears CEO and Board Chairman Eddie Lampert, pictured in 2004, could make billions from Sears's bankruptcy. B y now, Prospect readers probably know the basic story of the demise of Sears. The company that pioneered the 20th-century version of e-commerce—the catalog—did not succumb to 21st-century innovations like Amazon and Walmart. Rather, it was dismantled piece by piece by Eddie Lampert, the hedge fund titan (and former Yale roommate of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin) who purchased it in 2005. Lampert and his hedge fund engaged in relentless financial engineering to suck out all the value from Sears and leave a desiccated husk, which now could face possible liquidation in bankruptcy. But just how much did Lampert vacuum out? That’s a surprisingly hard question to answer, if only because of the variety of schemes he employed. Lampert was at one point simultaneously Sears’s CEO, board chairman, transaction partner, landlord, and banker. (Upon the...

Why the Aetna and CVS Merger Is So Dangerous

Aetna and CVS have more incentive than ever to use their market power to crush competition, and the Justice Department just gave them the opportunity.

(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan) T his week, the Justice Department blessed a $69 billion merger between pharmacy chain CVS and insurance giant Aetna. CVS also owns Caremark, one of the three largest pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), which negotiate drug discounts on behalf of health plans. With another tie-up between a PBM and an insurance company—Express Scripts and Cigna—awaiting likely approval, this signals an almost formal merger between the PBM industry and the health-insurance industry. When the CVS/Aetna merger was proposed, I wrote at the Prospect that this vertical combination would be incredibly dangerous. If CVS/Aetna knows the prescription drug usages, methods of delivery, and pricing data for all of its rivals, who all have patients who order prescriptions from CVS pharmacies, it can exploit that data advantage to skim off the top of every side of the pharmaceutical market. But a funny thing happened on the way to the deal closing. Congress, state legislatures, and even the...

How BlackRock Rules the World

The planet’s largest investment fund handles Mexico’s pension funds—and owns the companies they invest in. Cozy!

(Laurent Gillieron/Keystone via AP)
(Laurent Gillieron/Keystone via AP) BlackRock CEO Larry Fink speaks during a panel session at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, on January 25, 2018. A new pecking order has emerged on Wall Street. Big banks remain powerful and incredibly profitable—quarterly income has hit record levels throughout 2018, largely due to benefits from the tax cuts. But a decade of financial crisis, regulatory pressures, and (most important) new investing trends has transferred power to a few dominant asset management firms. As more Americans plow retirement savings into passive funds, the buy side has overtaken the sell side . Buoyed by an index fund collection called iShares that it purchased from Barclays, BlackRock is the world’s largest asset manager, with $6.3 trillion of other people’s money under its control. BlackRock’s Aladdin risk-management system , a software tool that can track and analyze trading, monitors a whopping $18 trillion in assets for 200 financial firms; even...

Schumer Surrenders

The Democrats’ Senate leader lets Mitch McConnell pack the courts.

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on August 21, 2018 D emocrats were obviously focused on the departure of Barack Obama from the political scene in 2017. But the exit of another Democratic leader, Senator Harry Reid, while not quite as consequential as losing the presidency, has proven damaging. A Senate leader is potentially the most powerful figure of an opposition party, something Mitch McConnell showed adeptly throughout the Obama presidency, as he constantly frustrated Democratic aims. But under Chuck Schumer, those oppositional tactics have withered, producing jaw-dropping spectacles like the one we saw this week: the active collaboration of Democrats in fast-tracking lifetime appointments to the federal bench. Since passage of the 2017 tax law, the Senate has become little more than a confirmation factory for President Donald Trump’s appointees, and McConnell has badly outplayed Schumer in getting the job done. Sixty of Trump’s judicial...

Pages