NerdWallet’s 2012 Year in Review: Investing Edition

Investing, Investing Data

by Susan Lyon

2012 has been an uncertain year for our economy and financial markets, full of bumps and hiccups along the way.  Here, NerdWallet Investing recaps the biggest stories of 2012 that are continuing to impact investors and markets alike, from hot tech trends to the presidential election.

The Best of 2012: Top Trends from NerdWallet Investing As We Head Into 2013

Why Going Over the Fiscal Cliff Would Hurt the Economy – and How to Prepare

NerdWallet’s What Is the Fiscal Cliff infographic lays out the numbers behind the many tax breaks and spending provisions set to change come the first days of 2013.  If we go over this fiscal cliff, it could result in a decrease in the national deficit of up to $607 billion, along with several associated negative economic impacts like increased tax rates and higher unemployment by mid-2013.

Black Friday Numbers Break New Records But Don’t Bode Well for Holiday Shopping Season

While November as a whole slumped for the retail industry, the 2 sales dates of Black Friday and Cyber Monday broke new records while also showcasing the new ways consumers are increasingly choosing to shop.  Online sales climbed high relative to last year, while in-store shoppers got more tech savvy, using apps and smartphones to pinpoint the best deals.  Holiday shopping season means buyer’s delight, but seller beware: the numbers heading into holiday retail projections don’t look too merry.

Investing Trend: Over 17 Million Investors Are Paying Their Online Brokers Way Too Much and Should Take Their Money Elsewhere

A NerdWallet study found that investors with the largest online brokerages are throwing away $1.8 billion every year on unnecessary investing fees with the big brand name brokers, a NerdWallet study found.  These people could be receiving equally reliable service and execution speed elsewhere at much less; NerdWallet’s new brokerage comparison tool lets people find the most affordable account for their needs.

In Financial Markets, Mixed Economic Signals Remain

One of the most talked about tech events of the year, Facebook’s IPO was perhaps overhyped – to the point of its own demise.  NerdWallet also looked into the story behind the ‘death of the cult of equities debate’ ongoing between Gross vs. Siegel over stock market returns in the long run.  NerdWallet’s take: a country without strong GDP growth over the long term will probably not have a thriving economy and stock market, as Gross suggests, but the correlation between the two is probably not direct and immediate so there is room for stockholders to slightly outperform GDP growth, as Siegel suggests.

NerdWallet also analyzed those at the very top of our economy – this year’s Forbes 400 list of America’s richest billionaires – in a Forbes 400 infographic finding that just over half of the country’s richest 400 billionaires – 205 households – made their fortunes in one of the top 4 represented industries on the list: finance, retail, tech, as well as oil & energy.

We Are Seeing a Tipping Point Emerge in Real Estate Markets

Are our housing and real estate markets are seeing what appears to be a slow but steady housing recovery, or not so much?  In a sluggish economy with mixed signals, NerdWallet examined the data in both directions to ultimately find signs of hope as we head into 2013.  While interest rates remain ultra low for better or worse, new housing permits are way up over 2011, as are construction rates.  NerdWallet also explained how insurance companies and markets were able to weather Hurricane Sandy pretty well, while homeowners suffered.

NerdWallet’s Presidential Election Model Correctly Predicted Obama’s Big Win, But There’s More Political Angst To Come

NerdWallet launched a statistical election prediction model in August that ran through the election, accurately calling 49 of 50 states and examined the possibility of a Florida recount, also pointing out the statistical flaws in competing models.  For viewers on election night, NerdWallet released a Presidential Poker viewing guide laying out the “winning hand” combinations of swing states Romney would need to pull off an unlikely win.

Next up?  After the Fiscal Cliff, Congress must tackle the Debt Ceiling and the next Continuing Resolution.

Summary

Overall, if and only if our federal government can clear up at least some of the economic uncertainty that’s been plaguing our post-recession recovery efforts, we believe 2013 can become a bright year for growth.

Other 2012 Year in Review resources: