In fact, leading financial manager Dawn J Bennett recently mentioned on her "Financial Myth Busting with Dawn Bennett" radio program that she doesn't believe the free market truly exists anymore, and argues that the demise of the free market is in part due to a weakness in political leadership, in addition to government over-regulation. An article in Forbes magazine echoed a similar sentiment, noting that while the free market certainly wasn't dead, it was "endangered."
Another key indicator of the health of the free market is the ratio of business "births" to business "deaths." Studies from the U.S. Census Bureau reveal that while the average rate of business deaths has been consistent over the last two decades, average births of businesses has plummeted significantly, suggested to be the result of the simultaneous increase in federal regulations over the past 20 years. A low rate of business births equates to decreased entrepreneurship, a decline in business dynamism, and ultimately a loss for the free market.
However, evaluating the state of the free market isn't black and white; while there is evidence of its demise, there are also economic developments that continue to be attributed to its existence. For example, before the Senate's November vote to refrain from construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, the viability of the project was already being called into question based on the global decrease in the price of oil. This decrease, many acknowledge, was interestingly the direct result of the free market's allowance of the dramatic increase in oil production in the U.S.
Evidence of a free market that continues to hum along can also be identified in the rise of the craft beer industry, which a New York Post article reports is responsible for the "dethroning" of beer giant Budweiser this year. The recent government decentralization and deregulation of the industry has opened the gates for small craft beer manufacturing, a sector of the market which had previously been all but shut out in the face of stringent regulations.
So is the state of the free market in jeopardy? While reports and opinions from all sides make it challenging to say definitively, we do know that the state of the free market, in whatever form, isn't exactly what it used to be.