From Fed to Fogle: The Top Stories of 2015

The year's most significant headlines centered on the Federal Reserve, Greece, ISIS, and crude oil

Dec 31, 2015 at 12:42 PM
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Wow, what a year it's been. 2015 seemed to come and go in the blink of an eye -- yet, in retrospect, the 365 days were packed with headlines. So, in case you missed some of the action, here's my list of the top 10 stories from the year that was:

  1. Fed, Fed, Fed: Throughout 2015, market pundits were trying to pin down when the Federal Reserve would raise interest rates. The central bank finally made its move in mid-December, lifting rates for the first time in nine years -- which, after all the hype, felt a bit anticlimactic. But the Fed hullabaloo is far from over, with expectations mounting for additional rate hikes in 2016.
  2. "Grexit": The first half of the year was dominated by speculation that Greece could potentially exit the eurozone due to a crushing debt situation. Eventually, the European Union (EU) averted a "Grexit," as Greece agreed to implement austerity measures in exchange for a bailout.
  3. The Rise of ISIS: The ascendance of the so-called "Islamic State" has captivated -- and struck fear into -- the world. For those in the West, the reality of ISIS hit a little closer to home following a series of mid-November attacks in Paris. Plus, debate remains fierce on Capitol Hill and social media alike over how the U.S. should handle the Syrian refugee crisis, as thousands flee the terrorist group.
  4. Crude's Collapse: In the past year, I've probably written the word "crude" more than any other. The commodity has been panning multi-year lows on concerns about a supply glut, resulting in huge losses for oil stocks. The silver lining? Cheaper gas.
  5. China's Market Volatility: Chinese markets ended a volatile year higher, but not before rattling global markets with a late-summer correction. The sell-off took its toll on domestic markets, which bottomed out in late August -- translating into the Dow's worst month since May 2010.
  6. SCOTUS: The U.S. Supreme Court came down with some major decisions in June. Specifically, the court voted to uphold tax subsidies on Obamacare, and subsequently legalized same-sex marriage. On the flip side, it ruled against President Obama's proposed environmental regulations of coal-powered plants.
  7. The Rise of Trump: Love him or hate him, the reality remains that Republican presidential nominee (and front-runner) Donald Trump has caught our attention. From insulting German Chancellor Angela Merkel to questioning the looks of rival Carly Fiorina, "The Trump" remains eminently quotable.
  8. The Fall of Chipotle: Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (NYSE:CMG), touted for its responsibly sourced its food, has been getting decimated on the charts and by consumers amid a rash of E. coli outbreaks. Note: This hasn't kept yours truly from indulging in a 1,000-calorie CMG burrito, now and again.
  9. VW Cover-Up: In September, the historic German automaker confessed to cheating on emission tests. In addition to severely damaging its reputation, Volkswagen faces potential fines that could cost it billions.
  10. Jared Fogle: The former Subway pitchman, who famously lost over 200 pounds by eating a steady diet of the chain's sandwiches, was hit with charges of sex with minors and child pornography. As a result, Fogle lost his endorsement, his marriage, and his freedom -- pleading guilty in federal court, and sentenced to nearly 16 years in prison.

Meanwhile, the S&P 500 Index (SPX) will essentially end the year flat, though it was anything but a smooth ride. If the broad-market barometer settles in the red, it'll be the first time since 2011 -- a year that's drawn more than a few comparisons to 2015. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is set for its first annual loss since 2008, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite (COMP) is sitting pretty with a 6.7% lead.


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