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The Top 15 Business Stories of 2011

2011's Top Business Stories

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This story has been a slow moving train wreck all year, and will likely go into next year as well. The Euro zone continues to struggle with the fact that some of its members haven't been as fiscally responsible as others. Who'd have thought would become a common finance term? Thanks to our global reach, CNBC.com was on top of every twist and turn. Of particular interest to our readers were our round-ups of the and
Photo: MomentImages | Getty Images

What were the biggest business stories of the year? Many a journo-hotshot will be glad to tell you.

But here at CNBC.com, we like when our readers tell us what interests you. So we dug through the files to see which subjects our readers clicked on most. We'll give you the results, then you can vote and tell us which stories should be at the top of the list.

So, what were the top stories of the past year? Click ahead for the picks.

By Allen Wastler
Posted 20 Dec 2011

Europe on the Brink

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This story has been a slow moving train wreck all year, and will likely go into next year as well. The Euro zone continues to struggle with the fact that some of its members haven't been as fiscally responsible as others. Who'd have thought would become a common finance term? Thanks to our global reach, CNBC.com was on top of every twist and turn. Of particular interest to our readers were our round-ups of the biggest and .What do you think is the top business story of the year? Click here to
Photo: Getty Images

This story has been a slow moving train wreck all year, and will likely go into next year as well. The Euro zone continues to struggle with the fact that some of its members haven't been as fiscally responsible as others. Who'd have thought PIIGSwould become a common finance term? Thanks to our global reach, CNBC.com was on top of every twist and turn. Of particular interest to our readers were our roundups of the biggest debtor nationsand countries with the most holidays.

What do you think is the top business story of the year? Click here to vote in our online poll.

Crazy Commodities

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See gold go. Go, gold, go. And oil...and silver...and copper. You'd think commodities would be a straightforward supply and demand play. But this year they got whip-sawed amid investors’ periodic hunts for safety and yield. Gold was particularly hot most of the year () Our readers loved seeing who was hoarding what, from to . Heck, even got into the mix.
Photo: Getty Images

See gold go. Go, gold, go. And oil ... and silver ... and copper. You'd think commodities would be a straightforward supply-and-demand play. But this year, they got whip-sawed amid investors’ periodic hunts for safety and yield. Gold was particularly hot most of the year (of course, now not so much).Our readers loved seeing who was hoarding what, from goldto oil.Heck, even rare earthsgot into the mix.

What do you think is the top business story of the year? Click here to vote in our online poll.

Global Market Volatility

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This subject goes hand in hand with our Crazy Commodities coverage. Nevertheless, the leaps and dives of stock markets around the world seem worthy of separate consideration for Most Important Business Story of the Year. After all, this isn't just about brokerage desks and hyper-trading. It goes right to everyone's 401(k) and pension. Our daily global markets coveragegot a lot of notice as did some of our deep dives into investor options.

What do you think is the top business story of the year? Click here to vote in our online poll.

Obama vs. Wall St.

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The President's re-election rhetoric took a somewhat populist tone this year. That made some on Wall Street think they were being made into scapegoats for lack of an effective economic recovery plan. Obama’s substance didn't seem to rankle as much as the tone.
Photo: Getty Images

President Obama's re-election rhetoric took a somewhat populist tone this year. That made some on Wall Street think they were being made into scapegoats for lack of an effective economic recovery plan. Obama’s substance didn't seem to rankle as much as the tone. Bank chief Jamie Dimonand hedge fund manager Leon Coopermanwere just a few to lash back, and readers were interested in what they had to say, whether they agreed or not.

What do you think is the top business story of the year? Click here to vote in our online poll.

Class War/Occupy Wall Street

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Who'd-a-thunk that an improptu gathering of disgruntled folks at a Wall Street park would turn into a worldwide movement? And , the anti-establishment movement grabbed our readers' attention, especially when . Despite being seen as the network of capitalism (correct in some respects), we did our best to let these folks be heard. Did you check out our periodic What do you think is the top business story of the year? Click here to vote in our online poll.
Photo: Stan Honda | AFP | Getty Images

Who'd-a-thunk that an improptu gathering of disgruntled folks at a Wall Street park would turn into a worldwide movement? And love them or hate them,the anti-establishment movement grabbed our readers' attention, especially when events turned tense.Despite being seen as the network of capitalism (correct in some respects), we did our best to let these folks be heard. Did you check out our periodic Speakers' Corner webcasts?

What do you think is the top business story of the year? Click here to vote in our online poll.

Seeking Wise Men

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Tumultuous times lead folks to seek out guru types, maybe not so much for comfort as for practical advice. Our readers ransacked our site for these “wise guys,” poring over words from Marc Faber, Nouriel Roubini, Bill Gross, Muhamad El-Erian, Abby Joseph Cohen, Jim Rogers, Dick Bove, Nasib Talibm, Meredith Whitney...just to name a few. Individually they don't add up to a super-story of the year, but as a category, well, they deserve at least a hat tip. Sometimes I wonder, though, if it isn't so
Photo (L-R): Nouriel Roubibi: Munshi Ahmed | Bloomberg | Getty Images || Meredith Whitney: Jin Lee | Bloomberg | Getty Images || Mohamed El-Erian: Jonathan Alcorn | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Tumultuous times lead folks to seek out guru types, maybe not so much for comfort as for practical advice. Our readers ransacked our site for these “wise guys,” poring over words from Marc Faber, Nouriel Roubini, Bill Gross, Mohamed El-Erian, Abby Joseph Cohen, Jim Rogers, Dick Bove, Nassim Taleb, Meredith Whitney ... just to name a few. Individually they don't add up to a super-story of the year, but as a category, well, they deserve at least a hat tip. Sometimes I wonder, though, if it isn't so much the wisdom these folks impart as their cool nicknames — Dr. Doom, Black Swan— that make them so popular.

What do you think is the top business story of the year? Click here to vote in our online poll.

Municipalities on Hard Times

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Many a city and state faced tough times during 2011, as unemployment and housing downturns hit revenues, and union and spending commitments hit costs. A few cities, like Harrisburg, Pa., and Vallejo, Calif., struggeled with bankruptcy. Meanwhile Wisconsin went to war with its public service unions in an effort to trim costs. CNBC readers were glued to the fights, notably monitoring the effects on bond markets. Municipal bonds and state funding securities, after all, are a key part of many portfo
Photo: Paul Taggart | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Many a city and state faced tough times during 2011, as unemployment and housing downturns hit revenues, and union and spending commitments hit costs. A few cities, like Harrisburg, Pa., and Vallejo, Calif., struggeled with bankruptcy. Meanwhile, Wisconsin went to war with its public service unions in an effort to trim costs. CNBC readers were glued to the fights, notably monitoring the effects on bond markets. Municipal bonds and state funding securities, after all, are a key part of many portfolios, and many people have been worried about them since Meredith Whitney suggested they might be doomed.

What do you think is the top business story of the year? Click here to vote in our online poll.

Whither China

Photo: Getty Images

There's a love/hate thing going on with China. It's a market everyone seems to want to be a player in. But it is also a fierce competitor ... and not always one that plays fair. Whether it's love or hate, readers always dive into the subject. When our U.S. morning shift takes over and checks what stories are getting the most traffic, the headline with the word "China" in it is usually in the top 10, be it trade complaints or white knight hopes. The latest China concern drawing readers? Whether it can keep its economic engine revving or not.

What do you think is the top business story of the year? Click here to vote in our online poll.

Unemployment

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Perhaps no other subject cuts to the root of business, economics and even investing these days. Our readers were certainly concerned with it. Every jobs number Friday saw a spike in traffic to CNBC.com for the 8:30 a.m. announcement. We also saw heavy traffic for features on , highest and the like. And it wasn't always negative. Our regular features were popular as well.What do you think is the top business story of the year? Click here to vote in our online poll.
Photo: Getty Images

Perhaps no other subject cuts to the root of business, economics and even investing these days. Our readers were certainly concerned with it. Every jobs number Friday saw a spike in traffic to CNBC.com for the 8:30 a.m. announcement. We also saw heavy traffic for features on new careers,highest degrees in demandand the like. And it wasn't always negative. Our regular dream jobsfeatures were popular as well.

What do you think is the top business story of the year? Click here to vote in our online poll.

Housing Depression

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If there is any economic story that can give our jobs numbers coverage a run for the money, it's housing. It's a fundamental part of most of our readers' wealth. Just like the employment number announcements, we see a spike in traffic for housing reports. [SHOULD WE LINK TO DIANA’S BLOG TOO?] And of course, people like the eye candy features too. What do you think is the top business story of the year? Click here to vote in our online poll.
Photo: Matthew Staver | Bloomberg | Getty Images

If there is any economic story that can give our jobs numbers coverage a run for the money, it's housing. It's a fundamental part of most of our readers' wealth. Just like the employment number announcements, we see a spike in traffic for housing reports. And of course, people like the eye candy features, too. Million dollar homes, anyone?

What do you think is the top business story of the year? Click here to vote in our online poll.

The Passing of Steve Jobs

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It wasn't unexpected, but Jobs’ death still was sad and disheartening when it came. Computers, movies, music...he touched many industries and raised many controversies. Many, many people mourned his passing. The was a gallery of . The commencement speech is particularly touching.What do you think is the top business story of the year? Click here to vote in our online poll.
Photo: Getty Images

It wasn't unexpected, but Jobs’ death still was sad and disheartening when it came. Computers, movies, music ... he touched many industries and raised many controversies. Many, many people mourned his passing. The highlight of our coveragewas a gallery of notable video moments.The commencement speech is particularly touching.

What do you think is the top business story of the year? Click here to vote in our online poll.

U.S. Debt Downgrade

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S&P taking away the cherished triple-A rating of the United States???!!!! Unthinkable!!! Horrible!!!! ....In the end, though, this was a news event with a lot of angst... and little market effect. The bond market hardly budged. Still, it made for good reading...especially as the . Folks gobbled up the responsible for the move.What do you think is the top business story of the year? Click here to vote in our online poll.
Photo: Getty Images

S&P taking away the cherished triple-A rating of the United States???!!!! Unthinkable!!! Horrible!!!! ... In the end, though, this was a news event with a lot of angst ... and little market effect. The bond market hardly budged. Still, it made for good reading ... especially as the White House and S&P traded barbs.Folks gobbled up the interview with the S&P execresponsible for the move.

What do you think is the top business story of the year? Click here to vote in our online poll.

Japan's Earthquake & Tsunami

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The human loss was tragic and still lingers. The business effects remain as well. Understanding all the repercussions was the at the time, and continues now. And, as with most catastrophes, What do you think is the top business story of the year? Click here to vote in our online poll.
Photo: Yomiuri Shimbun | AFP | Getty Images

The human loss was tragic and still lingers. The business effects remain as well. Understanding all the repercussions — of the natural disaster and the subsequent nuclear catastrophe — was the focus of our coverageat the time, and continues now. And, as with most catastrophes, the pictures are what brought the story home.

What do you think is the top business story of the year? Click here to vote in our online poll.

Arab Spring

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Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria ...and it's still going on. That's of general interest to everyone who believes in a free and democratic world. But regime change isn't just about politics. It's about opportunity and new markets. And it's also about control of a commodity critical to the world...oil. And so CNBC readers pay close attention. Our from Yousef Gamal El-Din were particularly popular during the various uprisings. And his work continues as he monitors the ongoing reverberations of Mideast
Photo: Getty Images

Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria ... and it's still going on. That's of general interest to everyone who believes in a free and democratic world. But regime change isn't just about politics. It's about opportunity and new markets. And it's also about control of a commodity critical to the world ... oil. And so CNBC readers pay close attention. Our on-the-ground reportsfrom Yousef Gamal El-Din were particularly popular during the various uprisings. And his work continues as he monitors the ongoing reverberations of Mideast political changes in the oil markets.

What do you think is the top business story of the year? Click here to vote in our online poll.

MF Global

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For those with money in the brokerage, it's a bad, if not tragic, situation. For those who love financial whodunits (the mystery of the missing $1.2 billion), it's a fascinating tale. And there is a little Corzone Schadenfreude too. How do we know? Well, our live streams of his congressional appearances were pretty popular...as was the with a lawsuit.What do you think is the top business story of the year? Click here to vote in our online poll.
Photo: Getty Images

For those with money in the brokerage, it's a bad, if not tragic, situation. For those who love financial whodunits (the mystery of the missing $1.2 billion), it's a fascinating tale. And there is a little Corzone schadenfreude, too. How do we know? Well, our live streams of his congressional appearances were pretty popular ... as was the clip showing him getting servedwith a lawsuit.

What do you think is the top business story of the year? Click here to vote in our online poll.

2011’s Most-Clicked Non-Biz Stories

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Who doesn't click on a weird headline from time to time, just to answer the inner "huh?" These were the leaders of that pack...
Jeffrey Coolidge | Photodisc | Getty Images