I suspect the Great Crash would begin long before that ultimate moment of bankruptcy arrived. It could be triggered by an unforeseen catastrophe. By some estimates, the total cost of the 9/11 attacks exceeded two trillion dollars. Barack Obama’s economy would not survive such a blow, especially since his immediate reaction to a systemic collapse would accelerate it, by nationalizing more of the private sector.

Even without a catastrophic trigger, the tragic end of our old system would begin when the job-creating upper class exercised its option to withdraw from the economy, taking money and capital with it. One of the most important attributes of wealth is the range of options it brings. The people targeted most aggressively by desperate socialists can simply leave the system. They can stop investing, hoard their wealth, or move overseas. They can do this very quickly, and they are, by definition, highly skilled at sensing the right moment for dramatic action.