Dec 22, 2021
Stash’s 2021 Year in Review
By Stash Team
The past year included vaccine rollouts, inflation, tech company shakeups, record quitting, and more.
As another year comes to a close, we’re taking a look back on the news stories that made this year memorable.
Much of 2021 was influenced by the world’s ongoing recovery from the Covid-19, as pharmaceutical companies rolled out vaccines and booster shots against the virus, people returned to work, and businesses reopened. Retail investors influenced markets, buying shares of “meme” stocks such as GameStop and AMC Theaters. President Biden entered office, ushering in new social and infrastructure policies, including another stimulus package.
The world still continues to face struggles posed by the pandemic. New strains of the virus—Delta and Omicron to name two—have challenged vaccines and shaken public confidence. Meanwhile, the U.S. has recorded the highest inflation it’s seen in decades.
Social media shutdown. The largest social media companies, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and more remove President Donald Trump’s accounts for his role in inciting the January 6, 2021 mob attack on the Capitol building in Washington, D.C.
Bitcoin bubble (again). The value of cryptocurrency Bitcoin surges to an all-time high of more than $40,000 on January 7, 2021, raising suggestions over another bubble. (It subsequently falls by 15%.)
GameStop squeeze. Video game retailer GameStop, smartphone maker Blackberry, and entertainment giant AMC become the subject of short squeezes. Shorting is the reverse of buying long. It’s basically betting against a stock, and it’s a key technique used when an investor believes that the price of a stock will be lower in the future.
Bezos bows out. Jeff Bezos, the founder and chief executive officer of Amazon, announces he will step down from his role as CEO in the coming year. Andy Jassy, who leads Amazon’s cloud business known as Amazon Web Services (AWS), will take over as Amazon’s CEO.
Congress hits play on GameStop. The House of Representatives Financial Services Committee holds a hearing on the January, 2021 short squeeze of GameStop, AMC, and other “memestocks.”
When Texas freezes over. Power outages and frigid temperatures in Texas cause a record drop in U.S. oil production, as more than 4 million barrels a day, or approximately 40% of total U.S. oil production, go offline.
New stimulus check, with new limits. The Senate passes President Biden’s $1.9 trillion aid bill this weekend. The package includes $1,400 direct payments, this time with different income limits than previous stimulus payments.
Tax time delayed. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announces that it will extend the tax filing deadline by one month, to May 17, 2021 to accommodate new stimulus payments and a backlog of tax returns.
Root Canal. A 224,000-ton ship the size of New York’s Empire State Building, known as the Ever Given, is freed on March 29 after being stuck in Egypt’s Suez Canal for nearly a week, blocking one of the world’s most important waterways for shipping and oil.
Ketchup plays catch up. Restaurants and fast food spots across the country experience a shortage of ketchup packets due to the pandemic. In response to the increased demand, Heinz says it will increase its packet output by 25% to 12 billion per year.
Musk’s moonshot. SpaceX wins a contract with NASA to send astronauts to the moon, beating out Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and defense contractor Dynetics.
You might need a boost. People will most likely need a booster shot of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine within a year of the initial two-shot regimen, the chief executive of the pharmaceutical company says.
Netflix big Oscar’s night. Netflix movies wins seven Academy Awards, more than any other studio this year. The streaming service also led the pack in overall nominations, racking up 36.
Inflation nation. Prices for consumer goods such as diapers, toilet paper, and tampons are on the rise due to increased demand outpacing the supply, as well as inflation. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that consumers were paying 0.6% more for goods in March, 2021, the biggest increase since August, 2012, according to the Consumer Price Index.
Problems in the pipeline. Hackers from the cybercrime gang DarkSide allegedly steal 100 gigabytes of data from Colonial Pipeline in a ransomware attack. The hack causes the pipeline company, which provides 45% of gasoline, jet fuel, and diesel to the East Coast, to shut down.
Earning extra credit. The IRS and the U.S. Department of Treasury announce that starting July 15, 2021, many families with children will be eligible for federal cash payments of up to $300 per child per month for the 2021 tax year.
Topping off at a premium. Gas prices reportedly hit a seven-year high prior to Memorial Day, 2021, with the average gas price in the U.S. reaching $3.04 per gallon. That average is a 58% increase from a year ago, when many people were stuck at home because of the pandemic.
Federal forgiveness. The U.S. Department of Education approves $500 million in student loan forgiveness for former students of ITT Technical Institute, a private chain of colleges that was shut down in 2016 for misrepresentation.
Re-Buffed. Berkshire Hathaway CEO and chairman Warren Buffett resigns from his position as a trustee of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The resignation comes weeks after Bill and Melinda French Gates announced their divorce.
Au Revoir Amazon. Jeff Bezos, the founder and chief executive officer of Amazon, officially steps down from his role as chief executive officer on Monday, July 5. Andy Jassy, who previously led Amazon’s cloud business known as Amazon Web Services (AWS), takes over as Amazon’s CEO.
Hertz’s latest chapter. Car rental company Hertz emerges from bankruptcy, about a year after it entered Chapter 11. Hertz filed for bankruptcy in May 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic hit the car rental business and others in the travel industry.
Starstruck. The billionaire space race takes another leap forward on Sunday as entrepreneur and Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson flies to the edge of space and back.
A crypto bind. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) says that it will begin regulating cryptocurrency to the maximum extent allowed by the regulatory agency’s existing authority.
Tall EV order. President Biden signs an executive order committing the U.S. to making half of all new vehicles sold in the U.S. electric vehicles by 2030. Car companies General Motors, Ford Motor, and Chrysler’s parent company Stellantis NV reportedly throw their support behind the order.
The Delta rush. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officially approves the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer-BioNTech for people ages 16 and older. It was previously available under emergency-use authorization only.
Expanded unemployment ends. Beefed-up unemployment benefits that have assisted approximately 7.5 million people in the U.S. during the pandemic expire on September 7, 2021.
Summertime spending. Signaling a possible improvement for the economy, retail sales beat expectations in August, increasing 0.7% last month, after falling 1.8% in July.
Who’s gonna budge? Congress approves a short-term funding bill to keep the government open through December 3, temporarily avoiding a government shutdown. The bill includes $28.6 billion for communities affected by natural disasters, and $6.3 billion towards the resettlement of Afghan refugees.
The debt download. The U.S. Senate passes a bill temporarily increasing the debt ceiling by $480 billion, which will allow the country to continue to meet its financial obligations through December 3, 2021.
I quit. A record 4.3 million people left their jobs in August, 2021, the highest number of “quits” since December 2000, according to the latest data from the Department of Labor.
We can work it out. Two years after a failed initial public offering (IPO) WeWork, the office-sharing company, goes public through a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC) called BowX Acquisition Corporation.
In a far-away galaxy. Facebook changes its corporate name to Meta, reportedly reflecting a desire to be known for more than just its social network.
Variant of concern. News of Omicron, the variant that could potentially evade the Covid-19 vaccine, causes major U.S. indexes to fall between 2.0% and 3.5% on Friday—due to concerns that it may interrupt the current global economic recovery.
Jack breaks his crown. Twitter’s co-founder and chief executive officer Jack Dorsey says he will step down from his executive position at the social media company.
Good for now? Congress reaches a budget deal, called a stopgap spending bill, that will keep the government funded through mid-February, 2022. The bill will maintain federal spending at a 2021 level, and will temporarily prevent a government shutdown.
Grande problem. Chinese real estate developer Evergrande fails to make two coupon payments due last Monday. As a result, credit rating agency Fitch Ratings downgrades Evergrande to a “restricted default.”