The final financial post of 2009 for Top Finance Blog, and I thought it would be interesting to see what the best and the worst financial news of the year was. There was way more bad news than good news, and to answer the question of which one we want to address first, let’s get the bad news out of the way.

1. Unemployment drives everything financial, and this past year was no exception. Most of the bad stuff started in 2008 with all the layoffs, then escalated in January, just before Barack Obama took over the presidency. It went up all year, and finally seems to be slowing down at the year ends, but that figure might be false. Where will new jobs come from; that’s the biggest question, even today.

2. Bank closures were a big deal, and it hurt mainly 5 states harder than the rest. As we reach the end of the year, my last count is 140 banks closed, and since I’m writing this before the end of the day, I won’t know until the new year begin whether any more banks were closed. Unfortunately, the predictions for bank closures in the coming year aren’t much better.

3. Ponzi became a major buzz word, even though Bernard Madoff was arrested in December 2008. More crooks were outed in many different industries, and the only reason they were discovered is because the economy was so bad and these idiots kept reporting good numbers. See, even smart people can be really stupid.

4. The housing market was horrible, and kept getting worse throughout the year. Foreclosures were at the top, followed by drastically devaluing homes. Eventually the $8,000 tax credit started to help some, but at the end of the year numbers are only slightly higher than last year in some cities, and since last year’s numbers were really bad that means things haven’t really gotten much better.

5. Although the beginning of the year held high hopes for a new health care bill, I don’t know that I can honestly say what we got is great financial news. I don’t like the fines part of it. I don’t like some of the deals that were made. I don’t like that we’re not being told some of what will be contained within the bill. All that, plus the plan doesn’t go forward until 2014.

6. Credit card companies took advantage of we, the public, as Congress decided to try to help us all out. Well, at least their version of help anyway. Credit card rates went up drastically, and some people had their cards snatched away from them without a moment’s notice. And, in my opinion, there was a lot of bad advice from so-called financial experts saying to just take the rate hikes and bite the bullet rather than cancel those credit cards because of the effect it would have on your credit scores, which, in my mind, are worthless now as almost no one is getting any new credit anyway, good or bad. As we reach the end of the year, new credit card regulations should be ready to kick in soon, but that won’t stop some people from being taken advantage of, like with this offer for a card with a 79.9% interest rate.

7. The stock market took a major nosedive, just staying above 6,500 before making its way back up. Even though it came back into the 10,000 range, that figure is suspect, and no one is sure whether that’s where the market really should be or if it’s just more speculation like in the past.

8. The U.S. deficit grew again, and it seems like it’s not going to ever stop. President Obama isn’t left with a lot of choices; sit back and do nothing or try to find financial ways to help create jobs. There’s a lot of federal money being spent, but its value keeps decreasing. And we owe a lot of countries a lot of money; then again, they owe us as well.

Wow, that’s a terrible list already; I think I’ll stop there. Was there any good news? Yes, some:

1. Whether it’s real or not, the stock market did go up, and that was needed to make a lot of people start to feel as though they could start investing their money again.

2. People started to save more money, and credit card debt did go down. So, more people are being fiscally responsible; it’s too bad that things had to get this bad for people to learn that lesson.

3. Although the numbers are confusing overall, the housing market does look like it’s either starting to stabilize or that the worst is over because it can only get so bad. Home prices go up and down, home sales go up and down, but there are fewer homes on the market, which means things are moving in the right direction in many places. The tax credit worked, and the government decided to try to add to it by adding another $6,500 for existing homeowners who want to upgrade.

4. There were many critics of Cash for Clunkers, but a lot of people got brand new cars at discounted prices, and even though some haven’t been paid, many car dealerships posted record sales. To me, with how far the industry was down, that was good news.

That’s a shame, but that’s all I can think of for the year; it wasn’t good at all. But I have a mantra I live by which says that every day is another day to find success. May you find financial success in 2010, and may the country and the world do the same.

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