If the free-wheeling, free-market system of the 20th century really has hardened into an oligarchy in the 21st, it could foreshadow collapsing trust in institutions -- some of which we've already seen -- and political instability. Without the promise that bold risk-taking and/or hard work can make them rich, what will young Americans do with their restless ambition? Many will keep working hard and be willing to accept the paltry returns, but an increasing number will turn against the system itself. Don’t be surprised if socialism, or other anti-capitalist ideologies, becomes the next hot growth industry.

Noah Smith is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He was an assistant professor of finance at Stony Brook University, and he blogs at Noahpinion.

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