“I’m a capitalist, and even I think capitalism is broken,” said Ray Dalio, the founder of Bridgewater, one of the largest private investment funds in the world. According to Forbes, Dalio ranks 60th on the list of richest people on the planet. “I believe that all good things taken to an extreme become self-destructive and that everything must evolve or die,” he said. “This is now true for capitalism.”
Jamie Dimon, the head of JPMorganChase, is also concerned about the health of capitalism. Dimon, whose salary last year was $30 million, says: “[Capitalism] has helped lift billions of people out of poverty… This is not to say that capitalism does not have flaws, that it isn’t leaving people behind and that it shouldn’t be improved.”
This is something new. Bashing capitalism and the inequality it generates and perpetuates is as old as Karl Marx. What’s new is that the titans of industry, whose interests are intricately tied to capitalism, are criticizing it as fiercely as the most aggrieved left-wing activists. The businessmen want to repair it, while radical critics want it replaced.
Big business leaders are not the only ones newly critical. According to a recent Gallup Poll, the share of Americans between 18 and 29 who have a favorable view of capitalism has fallen from 68% in 2010 to 45%. Today, 51% of them have a positive opinion of socialism. This is also new.
In the academic world there are the same concerns. Paul Collier, for example, is a renowned economist and professor at the University of Oxford who published The Future of Capitalism last year. In his book he warns that modern capitalism has the potential to lift us all to an unprecedented level of prosperity, but nowadays it is morally bankrupt and is heading toward a tragedy.
Criticisms of capitalism are many and varied and, most of them, very old. The most common is that capitalism condemns the masses to poverty and concentrates income and wealth in a small elite. This criticism was temporarily tempered by the success of countries such as China, India, and others in reducing poverty. This was due, to a large extent, on the adoption of liberalizing reforms that stimulated growth, employment, and increased incomes, creating the largest middle class in history… another novelty.