2019-05-07 —

If the barricades have not been erected in the streets, they were told several times over, they could soon be unless there is reform of the American economic system.

"It's not whether we should be capitalist or socialist. It's how do we make sure that capitalism is working the way it has in the past," said Alan Schwartz, a managing partner at global investment firm Guggenheim Partners, who warned of "class warfare."

He noted that salaries and wages as a percentage of the economic pie are at a postwar low of 40%, prompting a "throw out the rich" mentality that would require some form of income redistribution to head off.


Niall Ferguson, a senior fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution at Stanford University, said that when young people say they favor socialism what they really mean is simply a bigger role for government.

"There's evidence they really don't know what socialism is," he said, pointing out how his students seem to admire European social democracies, which are nonetheless capitalist.


... it was telling that Milken hosted the conference's last discussion, titled "Keeping the American Dream Alive" and featuring Ray Dalio, who built his Bridgewater Associates into one of the world's largest hedge funds with some $150 billion under management.


He returned to that theme in his talk, asserting that lack of income growth among the bottom 60% of the population had led to a loss of hope reflected in rising death rates linked to suicides and opiate abuse.

Dalio contrasted that with the New Frontier years of the Kennedy administration, when the nation thought it could eliminate poverty and set a goal to reach the moon. "I think that is the magic of the United States and we are losing that," he said.

It was hard to say that any comprehensive concrete solutions emerged out of the discussion, though there was much talk about the need to improve educational opportunities in lower-income neighborhoods.

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