Editors' pick: Originally published May 19.

There's no meaningful debate that capitalism is about sorting ideas into winners and losers. Although we treat it as a side effect, one of the great functions of the free market is to encourage good ideas and weed out the bad. It's a sign that things are working when pharmaceutical companies get rich curing diseases and Enron goes bankrupt.

It's less encouraging when the inventor of the Snuggie makes a fortune.

The corollary also holds true. If good ideas can predict what will succeed, then financial success stories can help us to understand what our economy values. And that's no small thing. From the internet to derivatives and foreign trade, the 21st Century economy is increasingly taking on a character of its own. What works and what fails can teach us a lot about what that character looks like, and what priorities it rewards.

For example these ten tales that are about a lot more than just who made some money over the past few years...

10. Twitter

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The little bird that fueled a revolution, Twitter is one of a handful of companies that have arguably defined the modern internet. So much conversation and web traffic is driven on and through the platform that it's almost hard to imagine an internet without it.

Which is why it's such a surprise that the company keeps struggling to make money. In what has shades of the 1990's tech bubble and Pets.com, major tech companies running on the fumes of venture capital have become increasingly common stories.

"The prevalence and magnitude of operating losses is one thing that distinguishes the modern economy from previous eras," said Professor Stephen McKeon with the University of Oregon's Lundquist School of Business. "When firms are experiencing high sales growth rates or pushing the boundaries of technological innovation, investors are now more willing to tolerate extended periods of operating losses."

"We're observing high stock returns and large financial statement losses within the very same firms, which has shifted how the public thinks about financial success," he added.