David Dayen

David Dayen is the executive editor of The American Prospect. His work has appeared in The Intercept, The New RepublicHuffPost, The 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.

Recent Articles

Bernie Sanders and Chuck Schumer's Surprising Collaboration -- and Weird Proposal -- on Stock Buybacks

Sanders and Schumer target buybacks as a way to leak corporate profits to investors. But their solution is an unnecessary Rube Goldberg contraption.

Chuck Schumer and Bernie Sanders went to the same high school in Brooklyn, but that’s about all they shared in common until an op-ed in Monday’s New York Times . The subject is stock buybacks, the increasingly common procedure whereby public companies use their prodigious cash hordes generated by record profits to purchase their own shares, rather than increase wages or invest in equipment. It’s one way to leak profits out to investors while workers get the shaft. As Schumer and Sanders point out, between 2008 and 2017, over 80 percent of corporate profits have been dedicated to buybacks and dividends, a more direct cash transfer to corporate investors. Buybacks also enrich shareholders by artificially increasing the stock price—if there are fewer shares available for purchase, the value of each increases. This has the nice side benefit of enriching top executives, most of whom are paid with stock. William Lazonick, America’s foremost critic of buybacks,...

The Trump Appointee Delivering a Jackpot for Hedge Funds

Joseph Otting, as an acting overseer of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, sets in motion a plan to overhaul the housing finance system, which would enrich wealthy investors.

When Mick Mulvaney became acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in November 2017, there was outrage over Trump installing a crony with designs on destroying the agency that defends people from financial ripoffs. The reaction was far more muted when Joseph Otting, former CEO of OneWest Bank and current head of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, began moonlighting as acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) earlier this month. But the appointment is just as dangerous to the future of everyday Americans, if not more so. After all, it concerns the largest financial asset most of us will ever purchase—our homes. The FHFA oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two giants that purchase mortgages and package them into bonds to keep the market for homeownership liquid. Fannie and Freddie came under government conservatorship after the 2008 crisis, with the government accepting $187 billion in liabilities . That has all been paid...

The New Economic Concentration

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

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 . Jonathan 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...

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.

Sears 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 percent of the more than 60,000 current employees at Sears who have seen the company capsize, after a doomed,...

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. 

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. State 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. Proposition 6, on the November ballot, would repeal SB1, eliminating $5.1 billion in annual...

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