David Dayen

Newly appointed American Prospect executive editor David Dayen, who will be joining the magazine June 1, is a contributing writer to SalonHe 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 in 2016.

Recent Articles

What Good Are Hedge Funds?

Hedge funds make big returns by manipulating markets in ways that are illegal for small investors. Remind us: Why are they permitted?

AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano
This article appears in the Spring 2016 issue of The American Prospect . Subscribe here . In the pilot episode of the Showtime drama Billions , a CNBC host grills Bobby Axelrod (Damian Lewis), founder of the hedge fund Axe Capital, at a public forum. “How do you respond to the criticism that hedge funds are the scavengers of the financial sector, and that a select few have undue influence on the markets?” “We’re not scavengers,” Axelrod replies. “We’re white blood cells scrubbing out bad companies, earning for our investors, preventing bubbles. A hedge fund like mine is a market regulator.” This claim invites an important debate: Do hedge funds represent an asset to the larger economy, or a menace? Do they really help make markets more efficient and transparent, or do they just exploit opportunities at the expense of other investors? There are roughly 11,000 such funds—investment vehicles that control a mix of client dollars and...

The Job-Killing Trade Deal You’ve Never Heard Of: The China Bilateral Investment Treaty

In behind-the-scenes negotiations with China, the Obama administration is pushing a trade compact that could export jobs overseas and erode worker protections. Why?

(Photo: AP/Evan Vucci)
The 2016 election has highlighted growing public opposition in both parties to the status-quo globalization agenda, which both sides blame for outsourcing jobs and privileging corporate profits over ordinary workers. This populist voter backlash puts trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on life support , and is forcing candidates to better explain how they would boost jobs and wages. But what if those voters learned that the Obama administration is in the midst of negotiating yet another corporate-friendly trade deal, one that would facilitate more offshoring, and that could also give China, of all countries, effective veto power over domestic policy? That’s precisely what’s happening in behind-the-scenes negotiations over a little-publicized agreement on the table between the U.S. and China, the world’s two largest economies. Just as the White House is trying to sell TPP as a bulwark against China, the administration is simultaneously seeking an...

Hedge Fund Creditors' Deal With Argentina Sets Alarming Precedent

In a deal struck Sunday, hedge funds led by billionaire investor Paul Singer have managed to squeeze billions out of a struggling economy. 

AP Photo/John Minchillo
Argentina’s long march back to international debt markets may finally have reached its end. Late Sunday night, the government and “vulture” hedge fund creditors struck a deal that would allow the South American nation to borrow once again for the first time in nearly 15 years. The longest debt holdout in recent memory reinforces the ethos of the vulture fund: Use maximum leverage for maximum return on a cheap investment in a troubled country. Paul Singer and his hedge fund pals have played this so well that they’re even making their enormous payday look like a loss. The home of tango and 32-ounce grass-fed steaks decided to default on $132 billion in debt after an economic crisis in 2001, closing off access to credit markets. Unexpectedly to purveyors of the neoliberal consensus, growth followed under President Nestor Kirchner amid a commodity price boom. Cleaning up the aftermath, Argentina engaged in two debt restructurings in 2005 and 2010. Roughly 93...

For Trade Deal, Bad News Keeps Mounting

Election-year jitters and bad economic signs cloud outlook on Capitol Hill for Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact.

(Photo: AP/Susan Walsh)
This week, emissaries from 12 Pacific Rim countries will meet in New Zealand to sign off on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), one of the most ambitious trade deals in history. But when the ministers sign the agreement in Auckland—presumably after authorities finish rounding up “known activists” in their bid to fend off protests—it will represent the beginning, not the end, of the fight. The 12 nations must now ratify TPP, without amendment, through their national legislatures. Members of Congress, especially those up for re-election this year, do not relish that scenario. Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, told NPR this month, “As Trent Lott used to say, you don't vote on a trade agreement in an even-numbered year.” Translation: Corporate-friendly trade deals that ship jobs overseas don’t tend to sit well with voters. Even lawmakers who support free trade would rather not trumpet that fact at election time. Indeed, all the highest-...

Creditors Cry Foul as Puerto Rico's Default Is Smaller than Expected

The pain caused by Puerto Rico's financial crisis is very real, despite what investors may think. 

AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo
Everyone expected Puerto Rico to default on some portion of its nearly $1 billion in debt payments due January 4. While that did happen , the total sum in default, $37.3 million, was substantially smaller than feared. In fact, it came in lower than a previous $58 million default last August. This has led to a lot of loose talk that Puerto Rico must be bluffing about the severity of their crisis, if they can still pay 97 percent of their debts. In fact, the theory goes, this is all a pretext to pressure Congress for bankruptcy protections, using minor defaults as a weapon. Mark Palmer, an analyst with BTIG, told CNBC that “Puerto Rico opted for a default that would send a message about the need for Chapter 9 and the potential for a humanitarian crisis on the island.” John Muller of Nuveen Asset Management explained to The Wall Street Journal that Congress may see through the smokescreen. “The ability of Puerto Rico to keep making all but a few smaller payments may...

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