A biz columnist bids farewell

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Jay Hancock, the business columnist of the Baltimore Sun, says goodbye to his readers on Friday by examining what a business columnist should do for his readers.

Hancock writes, “Business columnists, if they are honest and faithful, mark their beliefs against reality every few months, if only to themselves. When they stop writing a semi-weekly column after more than a decade, however, perhaps the reckoning should be explicit and public. (I’m leaving The Baltimore Sun to work for Kaiser Health News in Washington.)

“In 2001, when I started writing a financial and economics column for The Sun, I was a strong believer in the power of markets and the profit motive to improve life for everybody. I still am. Thanks to the Industrial Revolution and the development of motor transport, telephones and electric power — all accomplished by entrepreneurs — millions have risen from squalor to lives of comfort and meaning.

“But markets need more tending and vigilance than I realized in the fall of 2001, when the dark side of free enterprise was about to appear after years of brilliance.

“I had forgotten what the late Charles Kindleberger, the great economic historian at MIT, told me in the 1990s. Fabulous financial bubbles, Kindleberger taught, always reveal fabulous fraud after they deflate.”

Read more here.