Several years ago, the NHL instituted a salary cap that limited how much a team is able to spend for their team payroll. Prior to this arrangement, you had teams with a lot of money to spend, who frequently did so in order to lure the better players and create super teams that the rest of the league could not really compete with. In essence, if you had deep pockets and were willing to spend that money, you could create a team that few in the league could truly compete with. In an effort to create some true parity and genuine competition across the entire league, the NHL created a minimum and maximum level that teams could spend. However, this was quickly circumvented.
A "flaw" in the cap agreement was that you could divide the total money of the contract by the total number of years to get your cap hit value. Suppose you want to pay your player 50 million total in order to them to come to your team. You don't want to pay that in one year of course, because the league says you can't do that. So, you make an agreement with the player that he will sign a ten year contract at 5 million a year. However, you will pay him 8 million for the first five years, and then 2 million a year for the remaining 5 years with the expectation that you really don't expect him to still be playing in the NHL by year ten. Though this honors the letter of the law, it truly circumvents the intention of the law. My team did it, as did several others. This clause has subsequently been fixed, although a new circumvention technique has been created that I won't go into.
This example, is a small example that I believe fits the macro world we live in. Prior to the institution of the salary cap, team could and did spend whatever they wanted. Spending a ton of money on players was not a guarantee that you would win, and in fact, because there are quite a few batshit GM's, that scenario created a plethora of very bad contracts that ultimately drove up the contracts of players who really weren't very good. As for the teams that were both very shrewd and also had very good management, they simply dominated. At present, the NHL remains a fourth tier sport in America, but because of the cap and attempts to grow the sport, the league is far far more profitable and is larger than it had been under previous arrangements. This, of course, is not all because of a salary cap, and even at that, my team and the LA Kings possess 5 of the last 6 championships. Still, with the exception of a relatively small number of poorly run teams, the parity and competition level on a nightly basis is a lot closer than it had been when I was growing up and the league was full of ape sized goons whose only skill was their ability to pummel someone. I do not like everything the salary cap has brought, because on some level, it is a forced parity that punishes teams who put a lot of hard work into drafting and developing their talent just to have some rich idiot GM come along and poach them because they know the team that developed them cannot afford to keep them under the salary cap. Still, the league has never been stronger and may even expand here to Las Vegas.
On the macro level, I feel like the period between 2000-2010 provided a mirror image to what I described above. In the banking world, we undid a host of regulations that kept a lid on speculation, and we allowed massive banks on Wall Street to simply buy up just about every single independent bank across the country. Predictably, consumers got worse, rather than better attention, and the mega banks were allowed to do basically whatever they wanted to make money. Ninja loans, and subsequent creation of toxic mortgages is just one example. While a very select few bankers made a shit ton of money (just like a select few NHL players previously did) what was left behind was giant size pile of crap for the rest of us to pay for. Free markets work up until a particular participant grows so big they can stifle competition from smaller players. Regulations that limit unfair advantage and keep all players in a state of true competition also work until they become so onerous that they stifle creativity and limit reward. I believe a good balanced can be reached, and I see a difference between regulating to keep competition and creating regulation for the sake of central planning.