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

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)
By 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 bankruptcy filing, he stepped down as CEO .) Because of his outsized role as Sears’s number-one creditor, he...

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)
This 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 Trump...

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)
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 the Federal Reserve and European central banks use it. This tremendous financial base has made BlackRock something of a Swiss Army knife—...

Schumer Surrenders

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

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Democrats 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 nominations have been confirmed , more than those of any recent president. That...

Trump Eliminates the Middleman

His administration takes aim at the heretofore legal kickbacks to prescription drug distributors—but leaves the drug companies themselves untouched.

After a massive corporate tax cut and widespread deregulation, there aren’t many industries fearing that the Trump administration will put them out of business—with one exception. An industry responsible for extracting billions of dollars in profits from prescription drug purchases could soon see its gravy train disappear. I’m not talking about drug manufacturers; they continue to skate by with fake concessions and half-measures. In fact, the Trump administration’s most aggressive actions on drug prices have been undertaken on behalf of Big Pharma. Sadly, that’s often how things get done in Washington, where corporate greed only gets struck down when pitted against a more powerful corporate adversary. It would be far preferable to overhaul the entire system causing drug prices to spiral out of control, but I guess you must start somewhere. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Food and Drug Administration, both led by drug company...