David Dayen

David Dayen is the executive editor of The American Prospect. His work has appeared in The Intercept, The New RepublicHuffPostThe Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and more. His first book, Chain of Title: How Three Ordinary Americans Uncovered Wall Street’s Great Foreclosure Fraud, winner of the Studs and Ida Terkel Prize, was released by The New Press in 2016. His email is ddayen@prospect.org.

Recent Articles

To Bring Drug Prices Down, Trump Proposes -- Nothing, Really

Eschewing policies to lower costs here, the president tells drug companies to raise their prices abroad. (We’re not making this up.)

(Sipa USA via AP)
In 1974, President Gerald Ford announced a plan to alleviate rising consumer prices. “We must whip inflation right now,” Ford proclaimed , holding up a button with the acronym WIN. Ford had no concrete policies to convey, no government price controls or monetary proposals. But he did have the buttons, along with a few recommendations for people to plant vegetable gardens or carpool to save money. The Whip Inflation Now campaign was one of the biggest public relations failures in American history, a slogan in search of an idea. And I couldn’t help but recall WIN when watching President Trump in the Rose Garden on Friday, in front of a sign reading “Lower Drug Prices for Americans.” There were no buttons, but the message was just as empty: a plan to lower drug prices based mostly on mouthing the words “we will lower drug prices.” It’s no wonder drug company stocks climbed higher even while Trump was talking. The fact that this speech was...

Trump Moves to Gut the Post Office

His war on Amazon expands to include the right-wing’s campaign to abolish America’s oldest—and still successful—public service.

(John Rucosky/The Tribune-Democrat via AP)
Some may be inclined to think that Donald Trump’s executive order Thursday night establishing a task force to recommend reforms for the U.S. Postal Service reflects another salvo in the president’s war against Amazon. Trump’s attack on Amazon , a clear byproduct of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’s ownership of The Washington Post , included the suggestion that the online retailer was “ripping off the post office” by securing a special deal for the USPS to ship packages the last mile. By reviewing the finances of the post office, Trump’s task force could demand increases to that shipping contract, possibly costing Amazon billions of dollars. Whether Amazon actually is getting a special deal on shipping is open to intense debate . The company also happens to enjoy a discount on stamps , which they then mark up to their own marketplace sellers, a pure arbitrage deal to earn profits from a publicly issued product. But these issues have almost nothing to do...

Wells Fargo’s Overseer -- Make That Over-Looker -- Has Just Been Promoted

The leader of the San Francisco Fed has been tapped to head the New York Fed, the nation’s frontline bank supervisor. That doesn’t augur well.

John Williams, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, will reportedly be handed the job at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. It may seem like a lateral move, but it’s definitely a promotion. New York Fed presidents have a permanent seat on the interest-rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee, making them the eighth Fed governor in all respects. The New York Fed also serves as the first line of defense against Wall Street’s powerful banking sector. And long-suffering Puerto Rico sits in the New York Fed’s district. For all these reasons, it’s one of the most important economic policymaking positions in the nation. The vital nature of the appointment makes the outcome—and more important, the process behind it—so disappointing. While serving at the San Francisco Fed, Williams failed to detect the tsunami of scandal and fraud at Wells Fargo—and now will be rewarded with the lead supervisory role for a host of other big...

Private Equity: Looting “R” Us

But the new tax law, unintentionally, could put a dent in private-equity scamming.

The fate of 33,000 Toys “R” Us employees will be sealed in a bankruptcy court this week, as the nation’s last remaining specialty retailer seeks to liquidate all its U.S. stores. It’s a dark moment for the future of retail, and also one to question the business model that drove Toys “R” Us into the grave. After all, it was a leveraged buyout in 2005 that dumped over $6 billion in debt on Toys “R” Us, making it liable for $450 to $500 million annually just in interest payments. Take away that and the company was profitable, with growing operating income the past three years. Last year, it was responsible for 1 out of every 5 toys sold in the U.S.; no company should hit bankruptcy with that market share. But the debt proved too burdensome for Toys “R” Us to survive. In other words, it was a classic private-equity bust-out . The firms in the deal—private-equity giants KKR and Bain Capital and real-estate firm Vornado...

The Corporate Scam that Even Trump Opposes: PBMs

The administration’s welcome proposal to break up pharmacy benefit managers

(AP Photo/Richard Drew)
While the media pores over a Trump budget proposal that died before even getting to Congress , another administration document might deserve more scrutiny. Last Friday, the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) released its blueprint for making prescription drugs more affordable. And one of the biggest proposals would break up the pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) industry, a small group of middlemen that administers drug benefits in health plans, providing dubious assistance on lowering prices while extracting outsized profits. It may strike you as surprising that an administration so devoted to doing the bidding of big business would call for one of the largest and most profitable industries in America to be dismantled. But in context it makes a lot of sense. This report on lowering drug prices scrupulously avoids nearly everything that would lower the pharmaceutical industry’s profits. And drug companies have been pointing to pharmacy benefit managers as a source of high prices, to...

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