by Susan Lyon
2012 has been a shaky year for our economy and financial markets – full of uncertainty. 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.
1. How Badly Going Over the Fiscal Cliff Will Hurt
What, you ask, is the fiscal cliff – and how bad will it be? NerdWallet lays out the numbers behind the many tax breaks and spending provisions set to change come the first days of 2013 in our What is the Fiscal Cliff infographic. 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.
2. Holiday Shopping: Black Friday Breaks Records Yet Doesn’t Bode Well for December
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 2012 means buyer’s delight, but seller beware, as the numbers heading into holiday retail projections don’t look too merry.
3. Over 17 Million Investors Are Paying Their Broker Way Too much: Here’s How To Stop
Investors with the largest online brokerages are throwing away $1.8 billion every year on unnecessary trade and 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.
4. NerdWallet Presidential Election Model Correctly Predicts Obama’s Big Win
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.
5. “Death of the Cult of Equities” Debate Explained: Bill Gross vs. Jeremy Siegel
This piece explains 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.
6. Facebook’s IPO Bungle, Explained
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 provides a timeline of what happened, when, and why, as well as how investors should react.
7. How the Forbes 400 Richest Americans Became Billionaires
NerdWallet analyzed this year’s Forbes 400 list of America’s richest billionaires to create a Forbes 400 infographic to find 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.
8. The Housing Recovery Explained: What’s the Tipping Point?
Is America seeing a slow and 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.
9. CEO Pay: Female Executives Earn 13% More But May Still Be Underpaid
NerdWallet looks at the numbers behind S&P500 companies to find that while the average compensation for CEO men in this pool is higher, median compensation for female CEOs exceeded median compensation for male CEOs by 13% in the most recent fiscal year. However, there are still only 19 female CEOs in this pool.
10. Ask the Expert Series: Interviews on Our Economy, Political System, and Financial Markets
NerdWallet interviewed national experts across a variety of controversial financial and political questions to highlight opinions from across the spectrum:
- How can we curb insider trading?
- How can whistleblower programs work better for us?
- Should high frequency trading be more tightly regulated?
- Do we need campaign finance reform?
- Should we abolish the Electoral College?
- What are Voter ID laws and how do they work?
- Should presidential candidates be required to disclose their tax returns?