Was Adam Smith a finance skeptic? The following passage from the Wealth of Nations, written in connection with a banking collapse in Scotland, suggests so:
To restrain private people, it may be said, from receiving in payment the promissory notes of a banker, for any sum whether great or small, when they themselves are willing to receive them, or to restrain a banker from issuing such notes, when all his neighbours are willing to accept of them, is a manifest violation of that natural liberty which it is the proper business of law not to infringe, but to support. Such regulations may, no doubt, be considered as in some respects a violation of natural liberty. But those exertions of the natural liberty of a few individuals, which might endanger the security of the whole society, are, and ought to be, restrained by the laws of all governments, of the most free as well as of the most despotical. The obligation of building party walls, in order to prevent the communication of fire, is a violation of natural liberty exactly of the same kind with the regulations of the banking trade which are here proposed.
(From Book 2, Chapter 2, paragraph 94.) Thanks to Frank Levy for the pointer.
UPDATE: To clarify, the reason I am puzzled by Mankiw's piece in the NYT last Sunday is that the explanation he proffers for growing inequality--which he attributes to work by Goldin and Katz--cannot explain the striking increase at the very top of the income distribution, which Mankiw himself uses to motivate his column. Look at the updated Piketty-Saez figures:
As this makes clear, the most striking change since the 1980s is the increase in the share of the top 1%. The share of the rest of the top decile has not increased all that much. It's hard to see how lagging education can explain this, since the top 1% presumably hardly differs from the next 9% in terms of educational attainment.