business and finance department at msnbc.com
has looked back over the top business
stories for the year of 2006 and have
come up with their top ten stories. It
was an event filled year for the economy
last year, so there was a lot of headlines
to choose from.
Wall Street Surges
Stock market investors saw a record breaking
year of rises with the Dow breaking through
the 12,000 point barrier. Large cashed
up funds played a part in the increase
in prices with their seemingly insatiable
appetite for publicly held companies.
2. US Housing Slump
While the stock market went north, the
housing market went south or stayed idle
at best. The boom is over according to
the former Fed
Chairman Alan Greenspan. With mortgage
rates moving up from their record lows,
home owners that overstretched may continue
to struggle with payments.
HP Spy Scandal
Hewlett-Packard's former chairwoman Patricia
Dunn became involved in the much publicized
spy scandal. In an attempt to catch board
members that were leaking company information
to journalists, HP hired private investigators
to gain access to phone records and other
details about them. This action prompted
congress to outlaw the act of "pretexting"
and Dunn resigned from her position at
HP in September.
Enron's Final Chapter
chairman Ken Lay and CEO Jeffrey Skilling
were charged with defrauding investors.
Lay escaped sentencing through death and
Skilling started paying for his crimes
with a 24 year prison sentence.
US Automotive Industry Struggles
The U.S. automotive industry struggled
with competition from overseas automakers
like Japan's Toyota. Massive restructuring
plans are being implemented to stop the
hemorrhaging at Ford and General Motors.
While an ease in gas prices may increase
sales of the big gas guzzling SUVs at
the big three American car manufacturers,
it is almost inevitable that the more
efficient Toyota will become the world's
largest auto manufacturer.
Gas Prices Sore
American consumers saw gas prices heading
towards $4 per gallon. There was some
relief from August through to Halloween,
but there is absolutely no stability in
the prices. 2007 is expected to be just
The world's largest retailer had a year
of ups and downs, with most of them being
down. Everyone from unions, to politicians,
to activists, to environmentalists, and
small business owners fought it out with
Senior executives and directors came under
fire for manipulating their massive option
grants. Their actions were likened to
picking lotto numbers the day after the
winning numbers were drawn. Among the
195 companies under some kind of investigation
were Apple Computer Inc., Barnes &
Noble Inc., Caremark Rx Inc., Costco Wholesale
Corp., Gap Inc., The Home Depot Inc.,
McAfee Inc., Monster Worldwide Inc., Restoration
Hardware Inc., Staples Inc. and UnitedHealth
Bill Gates to Step Down at Microsoft
man in the world announced that he
will be leaving Microsoft to spend his
time at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Having a friend like Warren
Buffett giving much of his fortune
Gates has made this an even bigger
move. See Buffett
Fed Reserve Snaps Streak
After a two year rate hike streak that
saw 17 straight rises, the new Federal
Reserve chief Ben Bernanke put a hold
on increases. Opinions on the economic
future now range from an impending recession
through a soft landing.
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