You will find The Economist annual business & politics review.
Reposted Highlights from The Economist online’s The world this year
» Apple became the most valuable company ever (in nominal terms), beating the record that Microsoft hit in December 1999. Apple’s share price peaked at $705 before entering bear territory and falling by 25%, to $510; at the start of 2012 it had been $410.
» The most eagerly awaited IPO in years was deemed a flop. Facebook’s shares soon sagged from the price of $38 set on its stockmarket debut; three months later they were under $18 (they have since risen). Critics said Facebook had set the price too high; still, the IPO raised $16 billion for the company and its early backers.
» It was a rocky year for some of the other tech titans. Markets lost count of the changes in chief executive at Yahoo!; Hewlett-Packard chalked up an $8.8 billion quarterly loss related to its acquisition of Autonomy; and BlackBerry saw its share of America’s smartphone market fall to 1.6%.
» The banking world was rocked by the LIBOR rate-fixing scandal. Barclays admitted that some of its traders had colluded to manipulate the rate and Bob Diamond was forced to resign as chief executive. At the end of the year UBS paid $1.5 billion to regulators.
» J.K. Rowling released digital versions of the Harry Potter books. It was a big moment for publishing: Ms Rowling bypassed Amazon and other online retailers so that the e-books can only be purchased directly from her own Pottermore website for download.
» SpaceX became the first private company successfully to send a capsule to the International Space Station. China’s ambitious space programme was boosted when the first Chinese crew docked a vessel, the Shenzhou-9, in space. On the edge of space Felix Baumgartner (right) broke the world free-fall record by jumping out of a capsule to plunge 39km (24 miles) to Earth in ten minutes.
» European leaders tackled the debt crisis in the euro zone at umpteen summits that proved largely unproductive. It was left to the European Central Bank to calm markets by pledging to do “whatever it takes” to save the euro. It announced an “Outright Monetary Transactions” programme to buy unlimited short-term government bonds from countries that ask for assistance and agree to a plan to reduce debt.
» The year saw opposition to the Assad regime in Syria escalate into full civil war. In the worst atrocity of the conflict so far, around 400 people were massacred in the opposition town of Daraya. The fighting reached Damascus, the capital, and the rebels gained control over large parts of the country. Turkey, which is sheltering thousands of refugees, occasionally exchanged artillery fire with Syria. The death toll this year is at least 30,000.
» Egypt, the font of the Arab spring, was plagued by further sporadic violence, including at a football match in February at which 74 people died in riots. Muhammad Morsi won a presidential election to become the first elected Islamist head of state in the Arab world. He proposed a new constitution that critics say is excessively Islamist and endangers minorities.
» The post-revolution National Transitional Council in Libya handed power over to an elected congress, though factional fighting continued. On September 11th the American ambassador was killed in an attack on the US consulate in Benghazi by armed militants.
» An air strike by Israel that killed the head of Hamas’s military wing helped spark a week-long war in which 140-plus Palestinians in Gaza and six Israelis died, before Egypt brokered a ceasefire. Two weeks later Khaled Meshal, an exiled leader of Hamas, paid his first visit to Gaza since his movement took over in 2007.
» Myanmar continued along its reform path, holding elections that returned Aung San Suu Kyi to parliament. She was allowed to travel abroad for the first time in 24 years; Barack Obama became the first American president to visit Burma. The Burmese spring was marred, however, by deadly ethnic rioting between local Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state.
» South Korea affronted North Korea in the summer by suggesting the Hermit Kingdom would gradually reform and become more open under Kim Jong Un. Pyongyang retorted that this was “ridiculous” and “a foolish and silly dream”.
» A lingering constitutional row in Pakistan came to a head when the Supreme Court sacked Yousaf Raza Gilani as prime minister for not following its order to reopen a corruption case against the president, Asif Ali Zardari.
» The ECB’s move was designed with Spain and Italy in mind. Spain had already requested help to shore up its struggling banks. Mariano Rajoy’s government also contended with a surging independence movement in Catalonia; an election in the autonomous region proved inconclusive.
» The run-up to June’s election in Greece produced a few jitters when left-wing parties threatened to tear up the country’s bail-out agreement if elected. Markets breathed a sigh of relief when the centre-right New Democracy formed a coalition government.
» After three weak and divided years in office, the ruling Democratic Party of Japan lost an election. The winners were the Liberal Democratic Party, which ruled for most of the half century up to 2009. Shinzo Abe returned to his old job as prime minister; his previous one-year term is widely considered a disaster.
» America was much unchanged after November’s general election, despite a record $2 billion spent on the presidential race that saw Barack Obama re-elected. The Republicans kept control of the House of Representatives and the Democrats the Senate; for the first time white men will no longer form the majority of the Democrats in the House (they still account for around 85% of the Republicans).
» Mitt Romney picked off his challengers in a bruising round of primaries to become the Republican challenger in the election. His campaign was full of mishaps but the political lexicon was enriched by “Etch-a-Sketch candidate”, “binders full of women”, “the 47%” and “retroactive retirement”. The highlight of the party convention was Clint Eastwood holding an imaginary conversation with a stool.
» There was significant political change in France when voters dumped Nicolas Sarkozy in favour of the Socialists’ François Hollande. It was the first time the left had won a presidential election since 1988. Mr Hollande soon had to face up to tough choices on spending cuts that he avoided in the campaign. His approval rating sank to 35% after seven months in office, a record low.
» In other big presidential elections, Vladimir Putin vaulted back into office in Russia for a (non-successive) third term; Enrique Peña Nieto was victorious in Mexico; and Ma Ying-jeou was re-elected in Taiwan. Serbians turfed out Boris Tadic in favour of Tomislav Nikolic. To no one’s surprise Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov won again in Turkmenistan. All the other candidates were from his autocratic party; he got 97% of the vote.
» Hugo Chávez was returned to office in Venezuela’s presidential ballot, but less than two months later he revealed that his cancer had returned and he anointed his vice-president as his successor.
» Xi Jinping emerged as China’s new leader from its inscrutable process of selecting the general secretary of the Communist Party. Mr Xi’s mysterious two-week absence from public view two months before his selection was never explained.
» Earlier China’s elite was rocked by the biggest political scandal in decades when Bo Xilai was removed from the Politburo because of events stemming from the death of a British businessman. Mr Bo’s wife was found guilty of murder at a speedy trial. The world was also enthralled by Chen Guangcheng’s escape from house arrest. The blind civil-rights lawyer’s arrival at the American embassy in Beijing caused a diplomatic spat, but he was eventually allowed to leave for the United States.
» A territorial dispute over the ownership of some rocky islands in the East China Sea produced a wave of anti-Japanese sentiment in China, and raised fears that sabre-rattling in the region could provoke a war. Business between the countries suffered.
» The once-hot BRIC economies cooled rapidly in 2012. India was criticised, notably by Barack Obama, for its perceived hostility to foreign investment. It proposed a budget laden with taxes aimed at overseas companies, but Parliament did pass a law that will allow foreign supermarkets to open shop.
» South Africans were shocked by scenes reminiscent of the apartheid era when police opened fire on striking miners at a platinum mine, killing 34 of them. The wave of unrest that followed the incident crippled the mining industry for several weeks.
» Britain’s coalition government skidded in the polls, especially after it presented a budget that cut the top rate of income tax while increasing the tax burden on pensioners, which was soon dubbed a “granny tax”. Those provisions stayed, but George Osborne, the chancellor, reversed some of his budget’s other politically unpalatable measures, such as a “pasty tax”. He kept his job in David Cameron’s first cabinet reshuffle.
» Britain had its wettest summer in 100 years (which is saying something). Amid the gloom celebrations for the queen’s Diamond Jubilee produced some sparkle for austerity-weary Brits, though it rained on the day and Prince Philip got a bladder infection. The queen was given a cameo (in a James Bond spoof) at the spectacular opening ceremony of the London Olympics, which were hailed as a great success. America’s Michael Phelps added more medals to his haul and became the most decorated Olympian ever.
» Coalition casualties in Afghanistan were the lowest since 2008, though there was a rise of “green-on-blue” attacks by Taliban sympathisers in the Afghan forces against ISAF troops. In March an American soldier was charged with 16 counts of murder, including of nine children, after allegedly going on a shooting rampage in two villages.
» The International Criminal Court handed down its first-ever verdict and sentenced Thomas Lubanga, a Congolese warlord, to 14 years in prison. At a special court in The Hague Charles Taylor, a former president of Liberia, was sentenced to 50 years, the first African head of state to be convicted for war crimes.
» The top three internet search trends worldwide in 2012 on Google were “Whitney Houston”, “Gangnam style” and “Hurricane Sandy”. Other contenders included “Pussy Riot”, “Trayvon Martin shooting”, “The Hunger Games”, “Skyfall” and “Kate Middleton pictures released”.