Author Archives: David Dayen

About David Dayen

David is a contributing writer to Salon.com. He has been writing about politics since 2004. He spent three years writing for the FireDogLake News Desk; he’s also written for The New Republic, The American Prospect, The Guardian (UK), The Huffington Post, The Washington Monthly, Alternet, Democracy Journal and Pacific Standard, as well as multiple well-trafficked progressive blogs and websites. His has been a guest on MSNBC, CNN, Aljazeera, Russia Today, NPR, Pacifica Radio and Air America Radio. He has contributed to two anthology books, one about the Wisconsin labor uprising and another on the fight against the Stop Online Piracy Act in Congress. Prior to writing about politics he worked for two decades as a television producer and editor. You can follow him on Twitter at @ddayen.

Whose Oil Will Quench China’s Thirst?

As the heir-in-waiting to the title of world’s largest economy, China finds itself in a strange position in terms of its oil consumption.

In September 2013, China became the biggest net importer of crude, beating out the U.S. for the first time. This came as no surprise, given how rapidly China’s thirst for oil has grown, although landing in top place happened a little ahead of U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA) predictions that it would take place in 2014. However, where the U.S. has been shoring up its own internal production, China has lagged behind. Between 2011 and 2014, U.S. oil production rose by 31 percent, as opposed to China, which saw its own production increase by a little more than 5 percent over that time. This leaves China utterly dependent on oil imports, a vulnerable position to be in at a time when its economy is beginning to wobble.

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Financial Predators Move On From Foreclosure Rescue, Enter Student Debt, Military Lending Spaces

At one level, a crackdown on foreclosure rescue scams and not the overarching mortgage and foreclosure fraud is like letting the arsonist who set fire to the house go while busting the guy who took five bucks off the dresser before the house started to burn. Nevertheless, these scams do represent some of the worst elements of our society, featuring the kind of people who see suffering and vulnerability and think about dollar signs. One of my first entrees into this world of foreclosure nightmares was through a friend who had fallen behind on his payments, and then paid somebody up-front money to help him secure a loan modification. That person did nothing to help and then skipped town with the cash.

So it’s good to see CFPB finally take a crack at this, in conjunction with the Federal Trade Commission and 15 states.

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Mosul Falls to Insurgents, Threatening Iraqi Oil Sector

OPEC’s second largest oil producer is in severe disarray just as the world has come to rely upon Iraq for greater energy supplies.

Iraq is facing its biggest security threat in years following a surprise attack by Sunni militants on Mosul. In the June 10 attack on Iraq’s second largest city, members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) surprised Iraq’s security forces, driving them out and storming military bases, police stations and the provincial governor’s headquarters.

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Cantor’s Loss a Triumph for Anti-Corporate Right-Wing Populism

Cantor’s loss probably had many fathers. It may be as simple as this: polls always show that voters hate Congress but love their Congressmember, and Cantor, who had a whole mess of new, more conservative voters in his district after the 2010 gerrymander, symbolized the former rather than the latter. To the engaged sliver of voters participating, Cantor was the city slicker (even the Jewish city slicker, some suggest) who strove for institutional power and lost touch with the people he represented. The fact that Cantor won the areas closest to D.C. and lost the ones furthest away fits that theory.

But there’s no question that conservative economics professor David Brat succeeded in channeling a strain of right-wing populism to target Cantor, and plausibly so, as a corporate stooge and progenitor of crony capitalism. Lee Fang at Republic Report did the most thorough work on this…

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Student Loan Servicer Corruption Rewarded, Covered For in New Round of Obama Executive Actions

It is student loan week in the Democratic Party. Elizabeth Warren’s bill to refinance prior loans to the current 3.86% rate (including private loans owned by the likes of Sallie Mae), gets a vote on Wednesday. Yesterday, the President endorsed that bill, and threw in his own executive memorandum to, as the White House puts it, “make student loans more affordable.” Today, Obama will show up on Tumblr to further make the sale.

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Ashoka Mody and Michael Walton: Story of a Fraying Capitalism in India

French economist Thomas Piketty has written a scholarly tome with the humdrum title, Capital in the 21st Century. The book has become an overnight sensation because Piketty documents an inherent tendency for ever-increasing inequality of income and wealth in capitalist economic systems. It is not an accident, he says, that many will be left behind even as others become richer. The book taps into a collective anxiety, coming as it does amidst the lingering after-effects of the global crisis and slowing global growth.

India’s capitalist dynamic — as in other emerging economies — is different from that in the richer countries that Piketty focuses on. Yet, the lessons Piketty offers should ring a cautionary bell. Indeed, even more so than in the rich countries, India could find itself in a low growth, high inequality and high insecurity trap. These are the real fears that bubble under the theatrics and ugliness of the ongoing political debate.

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David Dayen: How Chase Bank Denying Services to a Condom Shop Is Really About Deregulating Payday Lending

Under the odd conventions of journalism, if someone else writes about a topic, especially if it resembles a “scoop,” nobody else can write about it. So if you go down the road for a week or so chasing a story and then you see it in your friendly neighborhood copy of The Huffington Post, you can basically stop chasing. Thanks for taking food out of my mouth, HuffPo!

But in this case, the complicated story in question warrants more attention, because it’s a really good lesson in how “lobbying” incorporates more than just paying rich people in suits to sweet-talk politicians and regulators. This is the darker side of lobbying, with the venerated “small business owners” everyone loves to deify caught in the crossfire.

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Just 83,000 Homeowners Get First-Lien Principal Reductions from National Mortgage Settlement, 90 Percent Less Than Promised

Yesterday, the National Mortgage Settlement monitor, Joseph Smith, released his final crediting reports, confirming that all five banks (Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Citi, JPMorgan Chase and Ally, now known after bankruptcy as Residential Capital, or ResCap) have now satisfied the consumer relief portion of the foreclosure fraud settlement. The banks were required to spend $20 billion in “credited” relief (some actions received less than a dollar-for-dollar credit). Smith exults that the gross relief provided totaled over $50 billion, and that “more than 600,000 families received some form of relief.”

What the mainstream media reports on this don’t tell you is that the $50 billion number is wildly inflated: for example, it includes $12 billion in deficiency waivers in non-recourse states, which the IRS confirmed have no value whatsoever. But I didn’t know just how inflated these numbers were, and how empty the promises, until I went through them.

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New Study Shows Dangers of Trade Agreements that Help Corporations Sue Governments

As the Obama administration negotiates new trade agreements with European and Pacific nations, a battle has emerged over the agreements’ egregious rules that grant giant corporations unreasonable powers to subvert democracy. These rules, dubbed “investor rights” by the corporations, allow firms to sue governments over actions—including public interest regulations—that reduce the value of their investments.

Oxfam, the Institute for Policy Studies, and four other non-profits are releasing a new study that explains why these rules are so dangerous to democracy and the environment. We are among the co-authors of this study, titled “Debunking Eight Falsehoods by Pacific Rim Mining/OceanaGold in El Salvador.” The report offers a powerful case study of everything that is wrong with this corporate assault on democracy.

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Philip Pilkington: Thinking Makes It So – The IMF Bailout of the UK in 1976 and the Rise of Monetarism

Monetarism began it’s rise to world prominence in the ever-conservative Bundesbank in 1974. But it would be the government of Margaret Thatcher in the UK, elected in 1979, that would truly launch monetarism in central banking. After Thatcher’s monetarist experiment undertaken between 1979 and 1984 every economics student would be taught to recite the various monetary aggregates by heart for at least a decade or two.

This is what accounts for the monetarist bent we see in the economists of the last generation. Basically any economist trained between roughly 1980 and 1995 would be heavily exposed to monetarist dogma. And only those that read alternative accounts of money creation — namely, the theory of endogenous money — would be fully immunised. This explains, for example, why certain economists that champion Keynesian policies — like Paul Krugman — actually speak in monetarist tones.

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