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

How Congress Scuttled a Plan to Save Puerto Rico From Default

The GOP really is telling Puerto Rico to drop dead.

AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo
It’s now become almost a cliché to emulate the famous 1975 front-page headline of the New York Daily News (FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD) any time Washington leaves some entity to suffer misfortune without relief or aid. But when the Daily News’ Juan Gonzalez resurrected the headline on Wednesday to refer to Congress’ neglect of Puerto Rico, it was hard to argue with its appropriateness. Congress really is telling the island, and its 3.5 million American citizens, to drop dead. As I detailed in a long-form piece for the Prospect ’s winter edition, Puerto Rico is facing a rolling humanitarian crisis. Its debt has swelled to $73 billion, and compelling the government to enact punishing austerity measures that have exacerbated unemployment and poverty. A January 1 debt payment of almost $1 billion is almost certain to not get paid in full, and Puerto Rico’s creditors—including a collection of predatory hedge funds known as vultures—could react...

How Hedge Funds Are Pillaging Puerto Rico

Vulture investors have descended on the commonwealth, taking advantage of a debt crisis that has impoverished citizens and created massive unemployment.

This article will appear in the Winter 2016 issue of The American Prospect magazine . Subscribe here . “This is a distress call from a ship of 3.5 million American citizens that have been lost at sea,” Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro García Padilla said on December 1, begging the Senate Judiciary Committee to help protect his homeland from an unspooling disaster. After issuing bonds for over a decade on everything not nailed down, Puerto Rico now carries $73 billion in debt, a sum that García Padilla had termed “ not payable ” in June. Successive governments have enacted punishing austerity measures to service the debt, despite a stubbornly depressed economy and poverty rates near 50 percent. Now, after defaulting on smaller loans, it’s likely that much of the $957 million due January 1 will go unpaid, bringing more chaos and suffering at the hands of Puerto Rico’s creditors. In many ways, the Puerto Rico situation is sui generis ,...

Bring Back Antitrust

Despite low inflation and some bargain prices, economic concentration and novel abuses of market power are pervasive in today's economy—harming consumers, workers, and innovators. We need a new antitrust for a new predatory era.

(Photo: AP/Virginia Mayo)
This article appears in the Fall 2015 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . I n the late 1980s, Thomas Shaw of Little Elm, Texas, watched a news report about surging HIV and Hepatitis C contractions among health-care workers. When treating patients, nurses and hospital personnel would accidentally stick themselves with used needles. Shaw had childhood friends suffering from AIDS, and he wanted to help. “I knew I couldn’t fix the biology side of it, but I could fix one part because I’m a mechanical engineer,” Shaw says. So he went to the nearest drugstore and bought a bunch of syringes. He spent years taking them apart until he finally came up with a way to solve the needle-stick epidemic. Shaw’s syringe operated like a ballpoint pen: Once you fully depressed the needle into the patient, a ring would snap and retract the needle, allowing workers to safely pull out the implement. He called it VanishPoint. If disposed of after a single...

The Battle of the Budget Isn't Over

Right-wing Republicans can still pursue their goals through riders on appropriations bills—and, if they don’t get their way, shut down the government.

(Photo: AP/Lauren Victoria Burke)
Even seasoned observers of Washington seem to have come away from this week’s events thinking that we’ve seen the last of the brinksmanship that has defined the last six years of the Obama presidency. The deal on the budget, debt limit, looming increases in Medicare premiums, and cuts in Social Security disability insurance supposedly “cleans the barn,” to use John Boehner’s phrase. That impression, however, reflects a misunderstanding of the basic facts about the federal budgeting process. All those exultations by progressives that they faced down the House Freedom Caucus and forced them to give up their hostages are wildly premature. Paul Ryan will have to negotiate the same balancing act that ended up forcing his predecessor to retire. What the House passed on Wednesday and the Senate passed early Friday morning is not the final budget. It’s merely a framework for topline discretionary and defense spending for fiscal years 2016 and 2017. The deal...

Paul Theroux and the Poverty Behind the Numbers

A recent op-ed from the author of Deep South sparked a debate about globalization and American poverty. 

(Photo: AP/Rogelio V. Solis)
Has globalization produced better outcomes for humanity in aggregate, or have improvements abroad come at the expense of large parts of the American landscape? And what should we care about more? Author Paul Theroux stepped into this decades-long debate in a New York Times op-ed , a preview of his new book Deep South , where he encountered poverty in the Mississippi Delta “that looked like towns in Zimbabwe, just as overlooked and beleaguered.” Theroux seethed at corporate executives who abandon American communities for cheaper labor, and then vow to “lift people out of poverty,” which they helped create. Theroux’s piece generated outrage, and then outrage at the outrage. Annie Lowrey of New York magazine called him “economically illiterate,” citing per capita gross domestic product and infant mortality rates to argue that global poverty is far more deserving of aid in Africa than the United States. Worldwide reduction of extreme poverty came...

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