The Problem with economies is that there is no fit-all solution. Both sides have benefits as well as costs, that's right, as iniquitous and selfish as I believe Socialism is, it too has some benefits, I just happen to believe that they are infinitely outweighed by the costs. Just as Socialism is not a perfect idea, nor is Capitalism. The Struggle is to find the balance for something in which the weights are constantly shifting.
For instance, Capitalism may work perfectly for a while, but undoubtedly regulations will begin to build as the government look towards ensuring a living wage for the people, this generally being achieved as people protest, and turn towards politicians who promise what they want, and thus Capitalism will not work in the context of a completely open market because other nations with less regulations and lower minimum wages have much better manufacturing costs, and you may think "well yes, but Capitalism with regulations is not true Capitalism" and I answer that by saying, that's right, but True Capitalism is impossible in a shifting Republic in which people are in fact, set on earning wages that they find satisfactory.
When I look at economy, It's like trying to perfectly balance a scale in which someone is tossing sand on both sides of a vast scale randomly, and you can only place one grain of sand down at a time. It's nearly impossible to balance it perfectly. The fact is nothing is perfectly predictable in an at least partially free economy. A Company could face a severe manufacturing problem and stifle the economy, Oil could be struck and push a Nation to the top of the Oil industry, or the food industry could be exposed for disgusting practices and new regulations are forced upon them. Really, Setting up an economy is just looking for a way to nudge companies in the right direction.
One prime example of nudging companies in the arguably right direction is Donald Trump, everyone's favorite President. Take what he's doing as example, He realizes a free market economy on the global stage will never work for America which is bogged down by regulations and other stifling chains and so he concludes that the free market must be limited in order to better protect American jobs. In this case, the Capitalist free market is in fact dangerous because it gives companies a platform on the global stage in which they can discard their costly manufacturing jobs in America in favor of a cheap and easy place such as india where their profits will be exponentially higher. Of Course Protectionism on the global stage seems suitable on this level, but once again, there are costs. Sure we can cut companies ability to send companies overseas, but then is that not giving government the right to restrict the freedom of private enterprises, It puts people's jobs over there freedom, and in some contexts, that is okay, but it also sets a precedent. If it's okay to put protection of people over those people's freedom, what other cases is that okay in. How about drugs, we can take away rights of a company to protect people's jobs, can we take away people's rights to abuse any substance they want in order to protect them from drugs, or any other personal freedom. Where does the precedent end.
Obviously no extreme is perfect, Extreme Capitalism is not synonymous with Perfect Capitalism. There are problems that must be remedied in every single variation of Capitalism, as is the case in Socialism, I would argue much more so in Socialism. For instance, Extreme Capitalism allows Monopolies, and even if we didn't let that monopoly buy out other smaller companies, we know any smart monopoly owner would simply lower their prices, even it means taking losses, to beat out the smaller businesses that can't afford to lower their prices. However after anti-trust laws are in place, and are actually enforced, I believe this to be the optimal economy. Promoting Competition among small business, while blocking monopolies seems to be the best way to raise wages, as well as produce innovations and other benefits to society.
So in the question of a Free-Market, There is two things to be considered, one could even argue many more, the Global Level, and the National Level, the other areas being state, and even county. As I have implied already, I believe Protectionism to be at least somewhat optimal on the global stage for a developed nation, obviously a developing nation with little regulation and low minimum wages does not need to concern itself with protectionism, but a Nation of great wealth, heavy regulations, and relatively high minimum wages, AKA America is certainly in need of protectionism on the global stage, but nationally, not so much, really only in the case of predator monopolies should America be concerned with national Protectionism. So In my personal opinion, is the Free Market optimal for A nation, Nationally, Certainly, Globally, Somewhat.