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

Private Equity: Looting “R” Us

But the new tax law, unintentionally, could put a dent in private-equity scamming.

The fate of 33,000 Toys “R” Us employees will be sealed in a bankruptcy court this week, as the nation’s last remaining specialty retailer seeks to liquidate all its U.S. stores. It’s a dark moment for the future of retail, and also one to question the business model that drove Toys “R” Us into the grave. After all, it was a leveraged buyout in 2005 that dumped over $6 billion in debt on Toys “R” Us, making it liable for $450 to $500 million annually just in interest payments. Take away that and the company was profitable, with growing operating income the past three years. Last year, it was responsible for 1 out of every 5 toys sold in the U.S.; no company should hit bankruptcy with that market share. But the debt proved too burdensome for Toys “R” Us to survive. In other words, it was a classic private-equity bust-out . The firms in the deal—private-equity giants KKR and Bain Capital and real-estate firm Vornado...

The Corporate Scam that Even Trump Opposes: PBMs

The administration’s welcome proposal to break up pharmacy benefit managers

(AP Photo/Richard Drew)
While the media pores over a Trump budget proposal that died before even getting to Congress , another administration document might deserve more scrutiny. Last Friday, the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) released its blueprint for making prescription drugs more affordable. And one of the biggest proposals would break up the pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) industry, a small group of middlemen that administers drug benefits in health plans, providing dubious assistance on lowering prices while extracting outsized profits. It may strike you as surprising that an administration so devoted to doing the bidding of big business would call for one of the largest and most profitable industries in America to be dismantled. But in context it makes a lot of sense. This report on lowering drug prices scrupulously avoids nearly everything that would lower the pharmaceutical industry’s profits. And drug companies have been pointing to pharmacy benefit managers as a source of high prices, to...

Abusing Drugs

How CVS uses its market power to destroy competing independent pharmacies.

AP Photo/Richard Drew
When the CVS drug chain announced its proposed merger with Aetna, some health experts offered a sliver of optimism. Combining elements of the medical supply chain could increase efficiency for patients, they reasoned, and eliminate some of the middlemen that make health care so expensive. But recent allegations about CVS trying to put independent pharmacists out of business should put an end to this happy talk. CVS’s existing combination of a pharmacy (which dispenses drugs) and a pharmacy benefits manager (which reimburses other pharmacists for dispensing drugs) is a disaster for competition and access, particularly in underserved communities. Adding a health insurer like Aetna would further concentrate market power and narrow the networks people depend upon for medical care. As first reported by the subscription-based outlet The Capitol Forum , near the end of October, right around when CVS/Aetna negotiations were first disclosed , independent pharmacists began to notice...

Big Tech: The New Predatory Capitalism

The tech giants are menacing democracy, privacy, and competition. Can they be housebroken?

Niall Carson/Press Association via AP Images
This article appears in the Winter 2018 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . “We’re making the world a better place.” The phrase is thrown around so often in the tech world that it became a punch line on the HBO satire Silicon Valley . Executives controlling the largest tech titans—Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft—might even believe it. But in a searing presentation at Business Insider ’s IGNITION conference in November, New York University professor Scott Galloway explained that technology and progress have stopped traveling together since the days of the Apollo Project, even as scientists and engineers developed the most sophisticated tools known to mankind. “What has the greatest collection of humanity and IQ and financial capital been brought together to accomplish?” Galloway asked the crowd. “To save world hunger? To create greater comity of man? I don’t think so. … Their...

The Rehabilitation of Antitrust

Time to overturn the revolution wrought by Robert Bork. We need antitrust more than ever.

AP Photo/Alan Diaz, File
Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee held an extraordinary hearing , challenging an entrenched consensus that has dominated for nearly four decades. Lawmakers and panelists didn’t debate a new law but the interpretation of a century-old one. And in the process, they revealed something about how corruption works in our key institutions. It’s not solely about self-enrichment or looting the treasury on behalf of donors. It’s about closing off debate, building a wall around critical decisions so only they and their friends get to weigh in. This cloistered, pinched, incestuous establishment went on trial last week, and it didn’t fare well. The hearing concerned the “ consumer welfare standard ” for antitrust law, a concept conjured up by Robert Bork and his pals at the University of Chicago in the 1970s. Under this standard, mergers are judged under the Sherman and Clayton Acts based solely on whether they provide...

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