From Apple to Piketty, a look at 2014

David MoonBlog

Yahoo’s “Year in Review” looks back at top stories and trends based on the queries sent through its search engine. According to Yahoo, the most frequently searched finance question of 2014 was “should I buy Apple stock?” Number six on the list was “should I buy Facebook stock?”

If you are asking a search engine if you should buy Apple or Facebook stock, you shouldn’t buy Apple or Facebook stock.

Time selected Ebola fighters from a list of six finalists as its Person of the Year. It’s hard to take seriously any list that simultaneously includes both Taylor Swift and Vladimir Putin.

Here are some of my picks of items that should be atop various lists for this year.

The top business story of the year: the official implementation of the Affordable Care Act. It could eventually surpass both Medicare and Social Security in terms of its long-term economic, health and social impact.

Most provocative business book: Capital in the Twenty-First Century, by Thomas Piketty. Anyone who pontificates on income inequality should first be required to read this book. Piketty argues that high inequality is a problem and that capitalism does not self-correct toward equality. Piketty minimizes some important points about how wealth is created or destroyed, but his intellectual framework is thorough and honest.

Best swing set: Apple Computer stock. It went from loved to hated to loved again, at any price.

Top political story: immigration. It’s about the only thing on which big business and the leaders of both political parties agree, even if they pretend not to. The implications are massive. Since November 2008, the US has added 2.8 million jobs in the economy. Since November 2008, US employment among non-US born workers has increased by 2.8 million.

Most powerful investment force: interest rates. The massive shift in wealth from savers to borrowers continued.

Worst investment prediction: higher interest rates, by me.

The top science story of the year: the space probe Philae, which traveled over 300 million miles—and landed on a speeding comet within 200 yards of its planned site.

Biggest loser of the year (again): Radio Shack. Or The Shack. Are they even still around? Like those Kardashian people and the appendix, some things serve no purpose and should go away.

Most significant underreported story: computer hackers, believed to be working for the Russian government, breached the White House computer networks in October.

Best “hire” of the year: India Prime Minister Narendra Modi. For the first time in 70 years, India has a political leader who is pro-business.  He is promoting the private sector, streamlining processes for business approval and foreign investment and removing political interference in state-run companies.  India’s Sensex index is up 30 percent this year.

Best invention? Improved automotive collision avoidance systems. We already have self-driving tractors; I can’t wait for the cars.