Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) agreed capitalism has historically been a "force for good" during an interview Wednesday, reiterating she believes in markets that were closely watched by "a cop on the beat."
On Morning Joe, MSNBC co-host Willie Geist noted the emerging tensions between socialism and capitalism in the nascent Democratic primary fight, and he recalled how Warren, one of the top candidates in the race, called herself a capitalist "down to my bones."
"I believe in markets," Warren said. "I see the benefits that markets can produce."
Warren said Wall Street regulators in the past had allowed big banks to get wealthy on the backs of "millions of families" and crashed the economy during last decade's mortgage crisis.
"When there's a cop on the beat, those markets start to work again," she said. "Banks, in that case, are forced to develop their profit models, not on cheating people, but on actually offering a better product."
"Despite its flaws … Do you believe capitalism over the course of history has been a force for good?" Geist asked.
"Yes, I do!" Warren said. "I think it also, when it doesn't work, it's been a force for bad, but that's been true of every form of government that we can identify. We've gotten it right sometimes, and we've gotten it wrong sometimes. When you let markets work with rules and with people on the beat to enforce those rules, we can produce a lot of wealth in this country."
Warren's campaign didn't respond to a request for comment.
The 2020 hopeful said markets didn't work in every case, like health care or public education.
Warren reacted defensively to CNBC's John Harwood's questioning about her economic beliefs last year.
"You don't think capitalists are bad people?" Harwood asked.
"I am a capitalist. Come on!" she said. "I believe in markets. What I don't believe in is theft. What I don't believe in is cheating. That's where the difference is. I love what markets can do, I love what functioning economies can do. They are what make us rich, they are what create opportunity, but only fair markets, markets with rules."