With 2009 coming to a close, it's always fun to look back at the year's news and think about what mattered the most. So what was the biggest business news story of the year? I'll offer up some of my thoughts and then give Atlantic readers the opportunity to weigh in.
This year, I'd argue that the economy was certainly the most important overall news story of the year, as the U.S. was in the throes of one of the worst recessions in U.S. history. Within the business news sector, it's hard to identify which was the most important aspect -- because there were so many big ones.
As far as more economic news, I think unemployment must have been the biggest story. Inflation fears got a lot of headlines, but actual inflation hasn't become a problem, yet. GDP is always important, but it's hard to make all that much of a statistic that's only really measured once every quarter. Some other highlights include poor consumer spending, ramped up personal saving and dwindling business inventories. The Federal Reserve's unprecedented actions also made a lot of news.
Then there are the various sectors. Real estate continued to be an important industry to watch in 2009. Foreclosures continued to rise -- and may very well have been the biggest story of the year. Commercial real estate also began to get some headlines, since that aspect of the market has begun to run into trouble. I'd expect to hear more about that next year.
In other sectors, Wall Street definitely got more news than it would have liked to. The big banks went from wards of the state at the beginning of the year to free firms by year's end. Of course, banker bonuses got lots of press too. So did the stock market, which staged quite a recovery over the course of the year. Finally, the U.S. automakers certainly grabbed the spotlight with their struggles.
Then there's the headlines that were important at the intersection of business and government, which, unfortunately, is a growing field of study. Health care reform certainly got a lot of attention, even in the wee hours of Monday mornings. As someone who got health care reform news fatigue some months ago, I can only hope that 2010 is different. Of course, financial reform also got a great deal of coverage. Expect even more of that next year. Government spending to combat the recession also was an important topic -- from the stimulus bill to various bailouts to talk of a second stimulus to combat unemployment. And we can't forget the deficit, even though most politicians would like to.
So what were most important? I'll provide my top three. First, I'd have to say unemployment. The U.S. hasn't seen unemployment this high since the early 1980s. It also affects people far more adversely than other economic predicaments. Second, I'd go with foreclosures. They continue to rise, despite the government's efforts and dismay. Finally, I simply can't ignore health care reform -- even though I wish I could.
So which story do you believe was the most important? Vote below!