2020 was a year to forget for many - we missed out on holidays, time with loved ones, catching up on gossip from colleagues in the office. We missed sporting events, weddings, funerals, milestones, opportunities, and so much more...
In 2020, 176 innocent people were killed when Tehran shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet, U.K. Home Secretary Priti Patel was accused of bullying staff, and basketball legend Kobe Bryant was killed, alongside his daughter and various other members of his crew, in a tragic helicopter crash. And, to make matters worse, this was all within the first two months of the year.
As we hit March, news of a novel coronavirus was spreading like wildfire around the world, and while the media and politicians were quick to condemn China for spreading "false rumours," it wasn't long until a global pandemic was confirmed. Borders were closed, families were torn apart, and almost 1.8 million people around the world have since died of the virus. In May, the British public turned against the PM's chief aide, the saga also referred to as 'Cummings-Gate,' after his lockdown-breaking decision to drive over 250 miles to his parents' farm with his wife (showing Covid-19 symptoms at the time), and his young son. I'm glad, though, that he managed to drive the 30-mile trip to Barnard Castle for a nice family day out to “test his eyesight.”
In fact, how many times have Boris Johnson and his cronies changed their minds, their policies, and their tier systems in relation to Covid--19? The PM's indecision led to his derision by comedian Matt Lucas, as well as a viral* TikTok (the only one I've made, I promise) from yours truly.
*8 likes counts as going viral, right? Oh well, my mum was still proud...I hope!
The list of celebrated individuals who died in 2020 could make up one of the all-time great dinner parties: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Lord Sacks, Jack Charlton, Diego Maradona, Caroline Flack, Chadwick Boseman, Kenny Rogers, Dame Vera Lynn, and many more brilliant minds, activists, and people who were positive lights in the world.
And we must not forget the tragic, brutal murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the protests against police brutality that ensued, Gavin Williamson's ridiculous A-Level and GCSE results U-turn, the terrible treatment of the Uighur Muslims in China, the huge market sell-off, and so much more.
But, as I was once told by a great mentor, "sometimes we see clearest in the dark." I.E. 2020 allowed us to see the true colours of human nature, which turned out to be not all that bad. Sure, the year was marred and will forever be remembered for the Covid-19 pandemic, but it was also a year that will hopefully be recalled for the things we did right. So, to end the year on a brighter note, I thought it might be worth highlighting some of these occurrences, events, and milestones, both financial and non-financial, which you might have forgotten took place in this seemingly endless calendar year!
- Rishi Sunak's rise to prominency saw the passage of his popular policies and initiatives, namely the furlough scheme, and the Eat Out To Help Out cause.
- Captain Tom Moore (now honorary colonel Captain Sir Tom Moore) raised a staggering £32 million for the National Health Service (NHS), by completing 100 laps of his garden at the age of 100.
- The Black Lives Matter movement, sparked by the murder of George Floyd, spread globally on a scale not witnessed since the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s.
- Marcus Rashford MBE, the Manchester United footballer, won the BBC Expert Panel Special Award for leading a successful campaign that forced the U.K. government into making two u-turns regarding free school meals for disadvantaged children.
- The U.S. presidential election, which saw Donald Trump eventually concede his office to the 78-year old Joe Biden, made Kamala Harris the first female and the first black vice-president, a monumental achievement.
- Jacinda Arden, the New Zealand PM, earned plaudits for her handling of the coronavirus pandemic in her nation. To date, only 25 people have died in the country as a result of the virus, a far cry from the 410,000 in the U.S. and U.K. combined.
- Pfizer announced that it had developed an effective Covid-19 vaccine - the brainchild of the founders of BioNTech, Özlem Türeci and Ugur Sahin. This has since been rolled out in several countries, helping to prevent the spread of the virus. And...the first approved vaccine in the world was given to Margaret Keenan, a 90-year old woman from Coventry.
- We clapped for the NHS, Italian girls played tennis and sang opera from balcony to balcony, the Spanish took to the DJ decks from their rooftops, and the Hungarians were out in full force on their accordians. And, what did Donald Trump, President of the United States, do? Well, he denied the existence of Covid-19, then encouraged people to drink bleach to combat its spread. You just can't make it up!
- As you will have read in our plethora of articles since March, the Covid-19 outbreak led to the downfall of various sectors, industries, and businesses. Some have collapsed completely, while some are still fighting for their lives.
- The gold price broke a new record when it rose above $2,000 per ounce for the first time in history in August.
- Despite the clamp-down on Big Tech, FAANG stocks (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google) led the way in the market recovery. However, the market and the general public were quickly introduced to a new hero - Zoom Communications. Since March 23rd, the tech-heavy NASDAQ is up some 77 per cent.
- ESG and sustainability was a topic hot on every investors' lips this year, with 40 per cent of all equity flows in H1 2020 related to ESG investing. This saw electric vehicle manufacturers Tesla and Nio shares rise 674 per cent and 1,140 per cent respectively!
The 'Too Good To Be True'
2020 was a year of ups and downs, highs and lows, but also, of remarkably odd events and news stories. Here's some of them - their credibility is completely at your own discretion!
- Elon Musk made headlines frequently over the course of the year, and while Tesla had a remarkable year, some of the stories taunted, rather than revered the man. Like in May, when Musk and his partner, Grimes, named their baby X Æ A-12 - undoubtedly a mouthful to pronounce! But the ridicule that stormed social media was reinvigorated when Grimes announced that the baby's name would be changed to X Æ A-Xiii, because, in her words, "Roman numerals...looks better tbh."
- This one had to be near the top of the list, for obvious reasons. In June, former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair conceded that he hasn't driven a car, done the laundry, or been to a single supermarket to do a grocery shop since 1997. I don't even know where to start with this one!
- In July, this dashing photo of Facebook boss, Mark Zuckerberg, made its waves on social media (if you pardon the pun). The week that the picture circulated, Facebook shares dropped some five per cent. Coincidence? I think not...
- A man in Lanzarote was stopped by the police and threatened with a €30,000 fine for taking his pet chicken for a walk.
- Police around the world were flocked with emergency phone calls from citizens...who had run out of toilet roll. In fact, the toilet roll global shortage, which, for those with sensitive stomachs among us, was an extremely troubling time, saw the worldwide success of Ben Sassoon's HowMuchToiletPaper.com toilet roll calculator.
- FC Seoul, the South Korean first division football team, drew public ire, and criticism from many, for filling their stadium with socially distanced mannequins (to replace the absent fans). However, these mannequins turned out to be sex dolls - needless to say, a bit of a blunder for the Korean side.
- I had to include it again, sorry. Dominic Cummings was somehow backed by Boris Johnson for his actions that clearly contravened U.K. lockdown laws. I'm still upset that Specsavers never made a witty advert featuring a squinting Cummings doppelganger driving towards Barnard Castle - but they did take advantage of the opportunity with a similar gag:
On a personal level, 2020 was a challenge, with both great moments, experiences, achievements, as well as some more difficult times. On behalf of my amazing writing team, I want to thank you all for your overwhelming support this year on the blog. To have had our articles read in over 90 countries by 15,000 of you is an astounding achievement, which I was tempted to put in the 'Too Good To Be True' section! From 40 followers on our LinkedIn page in June 2020, we now end the calendar year with more than 1,050. Our team has grown to over twenty talented student writers, who publish three articles per week, and we'll remain committed to showcasing the best student talent from around the globe in 2021! So thank you once again, and let's continue to inspire students across the world to learn about the financial world!
Wishing you all the best for 2021, and a very happy, healthy new year for you and your families!
Founder and Chief Editor of The Student Investor