David Dayen

Incoming (arriving June 1) American Prospect executive editor 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

The New Economic Concentration

The competition that justifies capitalism is being destroyed—by capitalists. 

Press Association via AP Images The Myth of Capitalism: Monopolies and the Death of Competition By Jonathan Tepper with Denise Hearn Wiley The Curse of Bigness: Antitrust in the New Gilded Age By Tim Wu Columbia Global Reports This article appears in the Winter 2019 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . J onathan Tepper is not happy. You might call him angry. “People haven’t used the word anger before, but you’re probably correct,” he told me in a phone call. The source of Tepper’s anger is capitalism; not the ideal laid out in textbooks, but how it’s been practiced since the 1980s. In a capitalist system, increased productivity and tight labor markets should lead to higher wages. But in the U.S., wages for the typical worker have been flat for four decades. In a capitalist system, “creative destruction” keeps the economy vibrant, as upstart companies push out less agile ones. But the rate of new business formation has been cut in half since the late 1970s. In a...

Sears Adds Further Insult to Its Workers -- Bankruptcy Bonuses for Execs

Amazingly, a bankruptcy judge has approved $25 million for 334 senior executives, while tens of thousands of ordinary employees face layoffs.

John Roark/The Post-Register via AP Shoppers walk by Sears department store with store closing signs at the Grand Teton Mall in Idaho Falls, Idaho, S ears and Kmart workers still have no idea whether they’ll have a job after the holidays, as the once-mighty retailer slogs through bankruptcy. But the federal bankruptcy court working through the case has nonetheless delivered a Christmas miracle for one important constituency: the company’s executives. Late on Friday, U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Robert Drain approved $25 million in year-end bonuses for Sears’ top managers, as the company had requested. Nineteen executives would get about one-third of that money, around $8.4 million, if Sears hits certain financial targets in the next six months, or even if it merely pronounces itself on track to reach those goals. Another $16.9 million would be distributed to 315 senior employees in “retention bonuses,” so they don’t leave to join other retailers. That comes to less than one-half of one...

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...

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