Europe crisis is top business story

Europe crisis is top business story

Posted: Monday, January 2, 2012 9:05 pm
By: Jonathan Fahey, Associated Press

By JONATHAN FAHEY
AP Business Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Europe took the financial world on a stomach-churning ride in 2011.
The rising threat of default by heavily indebted European countries spread fear across financial markets and weighed on economies worldwide.Several of the other biggest business stories of the year highlighted the global economy’s linkages:  A British phone-hacking scandal shook the foundations of Rupert Murdoch’s U.S.-based media empire; a nuclear disaster in Japan stymied auto plants in the U.S. and beyond; and the price of gasoline surged because of unrest in the Middle East and growing demand in Asia and Latin America.
The European financial crisis was chosen as the top business story of the year by business editors at The Associated Press. 1. EUROPEAN FIN-ANCIAL CRISIS: The government-debt crunch rattled Europe’s financial system and weighed on the global economy. Portugal became the third European country, after Greece and Ireland the year before, to require a bailout as its borrowing costs soared.
Analysts estimate the slowdown in Europe, America’s No. 1 trading partner, will cut U.S. economic growth next year.
2. BAD U.S. ECON-OMY: YEAR FOUR:The Great Recession may have ended, but the economic recovery continued to disappoint. For the first six months of the year, the economy grew at an annual rate of just 0.9 percent.
 3. STEVE JOBS DIES: The college dropout who helped popularize the personal computer and created the iPod, iPhone and iPad, died on Oct. 5. That was two months after Apple Inc., which Jobs started in a Silicon Valley garage in 1976, briefly surpassed Exxon Mobil Corp. as the most valuable publicly traded company in the world.
4. THE U.S. CREDIT DOWNGRADE: The ina-bility of political leaders to come up with a long-term plan to reduce the federal budget deficit led the credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s to take away Uncle Sam’s sterling AAA credit rating for the first time.
5. RUPERT MURD-OCH AND THE HACK-ING SCANDAL: The man whose worldwide media empire thrives on covering scandal became the center of a dramatic one. A British tabloid newspaper owned by Murdoch’s News Corp., which also owns Fox News and The Wall Street Journal, hacked the phone of a murdered schoolgirl.
6. JAPAN EARTH-QUAKE: An earthquake and tsunami that crippled the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear reactor, owned by Tokyo Electric Power Co., cut off supplies of crucial Japanese parts and idled factories thousands of miles away.
 7. GASOLINE PRICES HIT ANNUAL RECORD: The retail price of gasoline averaged $3.53 per gallon for the year, eclipsing the 2008 record of $3.24 per gallon. Americans drove less and switched to more fuel efficient cars.
8. SOCIAL MEDIA IPOs TAKE OFF: Shares of the business social networking site LinkedIn more than doubled when it went public in May, recalling the froth of the dot-com boom.
9. OCCUPY WALL STREET: On Sept. 17, several hundred protesters gathered at a small plaza about a block from the New York Stock Exchange.
They slept in tents, ate donated meals and protested income inequality and the influence of money in politics. The movement inspired protesters around the world.
10. THE DOWNFALL OF MF GLOBAL AND JON CORZINE: The former governor, senator and co-chairman of Goldman Sachs lost control of a small brokerage firm he agreed to run in 2010.
Saddled with huge debt and risky bets on European bonds, MF Global was forced to file for bankruptcy protection on Halloween.
It was soon discovered that $1.2 billion in customer money was missing.

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