It was an easy year to emulate Warren Buffett even as Congress almost wrecked the economy.
U.S. stocks rocketed to new heights, and markets in Japan and Europe jumped, too. The gains enriched investors and defied a still-subpar economic rebound from the Great Recession.
Budget fights closed much of the U.S. government for 16 days. Leaked classified documents showed that the National Security Agency collected private online communications via Internet companies. The disastrous rollout of President Barack Obama’s health care law confirmed fears of a bureaucratic train wreck.
Central banks embarked on a shopping spree. JPMorgan Chase paid a record $13 billion for its role in the housing bust. General Motors flashed signs of its old horsepower. A colossal merger for American Airlines and US Airways took flight. Twitter’s IPO recalled the dizzy dot.com era. And the heartbreaking deaths of 1,100 garment workers in Bangladesh showed that some overseas factories serving U.S. companies remain unsafe.
The stock market boom was chosen as the top business story of 2013 by business editors at The Associated Press. Washington’s gridlock and dysfunction came in second, followed by revelations involving the NSA.
Here are the top 10 business stories of 2013:
1. STOCK MARKETS SURGE: The Dow Jones industrial average set a record in March and hardly stopped to celebrate. The blue chip average has soared roughly 25 percent so far, its best performance in a decade. Stocks stand out as among the few areas of the economy to fully recover from the 2008 financial crisis.
The Federal Reserve’s bond purchases helped cut long-term interest rates, making stocks more alluring than bonds. Also, companies boosted share prices through an unusually large $751 billion in stock buybacks.
2. FEDERAL CHAOS: Congress nearly derailed the economy — not once but several times. Lawmakers allowed a Social Security tax cut to lapse after Jan. 1, which shrank Americans’ paychecks. Then they let deep federal spending cuts take effect in March because they couldn’t agree on a budget. The dysfunction peaked in October: Unable to pass a 2014 budget, Congress shut down part of the government for 16 days. National parks were closed. Federal employees stayed home.