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Tom Petruno is one of the smartest guys I know. Now that he’s leaving the Los Angeles Times, we’re really going to miss his insights on the markets, the economy and the world.

You should take a few minutes to read his last column for the Times, because it offers a sense of perspective that’s too often missing from today’s business coverage. He writes:

I’m stepping away at a time that is strikingly reminiscent of my first few years in the business of covering financial markets and the economy. That was 1979-82, in what was then considered the worst U.S. economy since the Great Depression.

Sound familiar?

Many Americans’ attitude toward the stock market was exactly the same then as now. In 1979 the market was mistrusted or outright despised. What was the point of owning stocks? The Dow Jones industrial average was no higher in 1979 than it had been in 1964.

The rest of that story is that after so many years of pinging between 600 and 1,000, the Dow Jones Industrial Average in the 1980s finally started its long, explosive climb upwards. (The DJIA closed today at 11,555.)

Many of you reading this probably don’t remember those years, and some of you who do are convinced it’s different this time. Like Tom, I’ve been hearing the doom-and-gloomers predict the end of the economic world for decades now. And whaddya know…we’re still here.

This is not to downplay the severe financial beating so many have experienced. There are people who have lost everything they had, and who aren’t likely to get all or even most of it back. The unemployment rate is scary and so is the all the debt we’ve accrued, as people and as nations.

But we have survived worse. I think we will again.

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