For better or worse, these nine major headlines are sure to go down in history as some of the most-talked-about finance wins (and woes) of 2014.
Taylor Swift Breaks Up with Spotify
Pop superstar Taylor Swift called the entire music industry’s business model into question when she pulled her songs from Spotify in November. Swift stated that she felt her music did not earn enough through the streaming service and that it hurt album sales. Spotify founder Daniel Ek fired back at Swift in a blog post, saying that Spotify’s entire mission is to redefine the music economy to benefit musicians. Whatever your thoughts on Swift or Spotify, the story has definitely sparked a debate that isn’t likely to end any time soon.
The Home Depot Hack
Think the 2013 Target Hack was bad? Well, the 2014 Home Depot data breach put 56 million cards at risk, a whopping 16 million more than the number compromised in the Target scandal. Experts say the virus likely hid unnoticed in Home Depot’s network for five months between April and September before the company discovered the breach, a mistake that cost the company an estimated $62 million in damage control.
The Ebola Crisis
The ebola virus made headlines around the world this year, but the virus was more than medical news. Neither the illness nor its economic impact stayed isolated in Africa. Many countries closed their borders to infected countries and suffered a loss in trade as a result. Other areas suffered a sharp decline in tourism. Businesses put a halt to African projects which had an international impact on global companies and industries.
Dr. Dre Set to Become Hip-Hop’s First Billionaire?
Dr. Dre’s hugely successful Beats By Dre headphones have made him one of the world’s wealthiest men in hip-hop—and he may soon become the wealthiest. In May, Apple acquired Beats Electronics for over $3 billion. With the closing of this deal, the company’s cofounder Dr. Dre is poised to become hip-hop’s first billionaire.
Many will remember a security bug called Heartbleed, a mistake in the OpenSSL system that allows hackers to access user names, passwords and more, which in turn allows them to gain even more sensitive information. Companies and programs spent millions to fix the flaw and users were left to again question the security of their information.
The Affordable Care Act
The implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) proved less affordable than hoped for many Americans in the start of 2014. Better known as Obamacare, the wide-sweeping healthcare reform law has been controversial since its passing in 2010. Analysts argued for years about how events might unfold when the law went into effect, but with Affordable Care now in full swing, we can measure the actual financial impact on the country as a whole, individual Americans and family units.
ACA had problems from the start. The rollout of the law included an exchange website, Healthcare.gov, which was riddled with security and functional flaws when it launched in the fall of 2013. The initial construction of the site and the cost of fixing the many technical problems totaled more than $2 billion, according to Bloomsberg News.
On the individual level, singles and families are paying higher premiums on their employer health plans. What’s more, the New York Times predicts the cost of coverage could increase again in 2015.
Breakout Success for Alibaba
When Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group went public in September, it officially became the largest global IPO ever. Selling its shares earned the company $25 billion, making Alibaba Chairman Jack Ma the wealthiest man in China. Yahoo helped to provide additional shares to sell, and their involvement in the over-allotment made them the largest seller in Alibaba’s IPO.
Youth Unemployment Rates Persist
While most of the American economy has shown improvement this year, the youth unemployment rate remains high. The youth unemployment rate was 14.3% in July, more than twice the national average for that same month, making it a hot topic once and again throughout the entirety of 2014.
Hard Times for Malaysian Airlines
After the tragic downing of two of its planes in a matter of months, Malaysia Airlines suffered a major financial loss. The company announced plans in August to cut 6,000 jobs as part of its effort to rebrand.