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

Q&A: Will Colleges Support Debt-Free Higher Education?

Now the president of a liberal arts college in Maryland, former Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Chairwoman Sheila Bair discusses whether college-for-all proposals would really help students.

AP Photo/Ron Edmonds
This summer, I argued that Democratic proposals for debt-free higher education will draw opposition from the colleges themselves, which are well served by the status quo. That’s because making public colleges and universities free would force costs down throughout the system, and reverse the incentives that cause tuitions to rise. But this prediction drew a sharp retort from a vocal, albeit unlikely, critic of liberal debt-free college plans: Sheila Bair, the former chairwoman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and now the president of Washington College, a 1,450-student liberal arts school in Chestertown, Maryland. During President Obama’s first term, Bair frequently clashed with her colleagues over Dodd-Frank regulations and housing policy, eliciting cheers from progressives. But since becoming Washington College president last year, she has questioned the wisdom of making public four-year colleges and universities tuition-free, a position that puts her at odds...

Who's to Blame for Brexit? The Elites

Britain's vote to leave the European Union was driven by right-wing populism, but the real blame must be laid at the feet of elite technocrats who have bungled the European project.

AP Photo/Matt Dunham
/*--> */ Over the past decade, elites broke the world, and were unrepentant about their failure. They created the conditions for the worst economic crisis in nearly a century, and made sure that their elite friends at the top would scoop up the post-crisis gains, stranding the vast majority of people. They decided their project of globalization and liberalization mattered more than democracy. Brexit is among the first tangible responses. Yes, the victorious campaign to leave the European Union won on the basis of xenophobia and the demonization of immigrants. For anyone of a cosmopolitan bent it’s a terrible outcome. And those with long enough memories to remember the last time European nations broke apart instead of coming together will be pained by the outcome. But if you tell people you know what’s best for them for years and years while their prospects wither and their lives are immiserated, at some point you should expect some kind of reaction. Practically all of the...

Will Congress Thwart Puerto Rico’s Best Chance for Relief?

A case before the Supreme Court could give the territory the power to restructure much of its debt—but only if Congress doesn’t get in the way.  

AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo
Congress appears to be hurtling toward passage of the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA), which would provide potential restructuring for Puerto Rico’s $70 billion debt, while establishing a fiscal control board to oversee virtually every aspect of the island’s fiscal activities, from budget cuts to construction and energy projects. Outside of Bernie Sanders , there appears to be little impetus in Congress to fight PROMESA, despite progressive uneasiness with the inherent colonialism of stripping Puerto Rico of its self-government in favor of unelected minders in Washington, not to mention provisions that would hit workers, by lowering the minimum wage and exempting the island from the administration’s new overtime rule . Liberals stress that, despite its flaws, PROMESA would give Puerto Rico essential tools it needs to restructure its debt, and it represents the best opportunity for relief for 3.5 million American citizens...

The Great Foreclosure Fraud

When millions of families lost their homes to foreclosure in the Great Recession, a nurse, a car dealership worker and a forensic expert blew the whistle on mortgage industry abuses.

AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File
Below is an excerpt from Chain of Title: How Three Ordinary Americans Uncovered Wall Street’s Great Foreclosure Fraud , published on May 17 by The New Press . There is a rot at the heart of our democracy, rooted in a nagging mystery that has yet to be unraveled. It gnaws at people, occupies their thoughts, leaves them searching for answers in the chill of the night. Americans want to know why no high-ranking Wall Street executive has gone to jail for the conduct that precipitated the financial crisis. The oddest thing about the predominance of the question is that everyone already assumes they know the answer. They believe that too many politicians, regulators, and law enforcement officials, bought off with campaign contributions or the promise of a future job, simply allowed banker miscreants to annihilate the law in pursuit of profit. But they must not like the explanation very much, because they keep asking why, as if they want to be proven wrong, to be given a different...

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...

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