It didn't happen.
The three largest economies - the United States, China and Japan - struggled again in 2012. The 17 countries that use the euro endured a third painful year in their financial crisis and slid into recession. Emerging economies slowed.
President Barack Obama defied predictions by sailing to re-election. And his landmark health care plan surprisingly survived Supreme Court review. Obama's re-election triggered a face-off with Republicans over averting the "fiscal cliff" - the drastic spending cuts and tax increases that were set to kick in Jan. 1.
2012: The year in review
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- Top business story in '12: Sluggish global economy
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- Year in review: Bankruptcy dominates San Bernardino life
- 2012: A year in San Bernardino County
- Ontario reaches key milestones in airport battle
- 2012: A look back at Inland Valley news
- A look back at San Bernardino-area sports in 2012
- A look back at Inland Valley sports in 2012
- Redlands community saw many ups, downs in 2012
- Redlanders who made a difference died in 2012
The tech world dueled over smartphones and tablets and saw Facebook's IPO sour as fast as it had sizzled. The housing market inched toward recovery. And Americans suffered both a catastrophic drought and a catastrophic superstorm.
Here are the biggest business stories of the year:
1. The global economy
Worldwide growth was slack again in 2012. The global economy grew just 3.3 percent, down from 3.8 percent in 2011 and 5.1 percent in 2010, the International Monetary Fund estimates. The U.S. economy, the world's largest, failed to gain traction. Five years after a recession seized the economy and more than three years after it ended, growth in the United States was only about 2 percent.
Europe fared worse. Its financial crisis did stabilize, thanks in part to the European Central Bank's plan to buy government bonds to help countries manage their debts. But the euro alliance sank into recession. Europeans, in turn, held back China, the world's No. 2 economy, by cutting back on Chinese goods. China's economy grew at a 7.4 percent annual rate in the July-September quarter.
2. Presidential election
Obama vaulted to a re-election victory over Mitt Romney, who had staked his bid on the weakest U.S. economic rebound since the Great Depression and had pledged to slash taxes. Unemployment under Obama topped 8 percent for 43 straight months.
Yet he won despite the highest unemployment rate of any president seeking re-election since World War II. Voters assigned him higher marks on the economy as the year progressed, perhaps encouraged by job gains.
3. Obama's health care law is upheld
The Supreme Court caught many by surprise when it backed the Obama administration's health care reform legislation in a 5-4 vote. The law requires Americans to buy insurance or pay a tax, while subsidizing the needy. Hospitals and health insurers will likely benefit from 30 million new customers. Medical device makers, though, will face a new sales tax. And some small businesses say the law will discourage hiring because it requires companies to provide health care once they employ more than 50.
4. The fiscal cliff
A dreaded package of tax increases and deep spending cuts to domestic and defense programs loomed over the economy in the year's final months. Negotiators struggled to forge a budget deal to avert those measures. If they failed, the tax increases and spending cuts would kick in Jan. 1. That threat was intended to be so chilling that it would force Congress and the White House to take the painful budgetary steps needed to avoid it.
5. Facebook's IPO
Years of anticipation led to Facebook's initial public offering of stock - the hottest Internet IPO since Google's in 2004. Many of the billion or so users of the world's largest online social network craved a chance to buy in early. On the eve of its first trading day, Facebook's market value was $104 billion - more than Amazon.com's or McDonald's at the time. Yet the IPO bombed.
6. Housing recovery
After a six-year slump that sent more than 4 million homes into foreclosure and shrank home prices about one-third nationwide, the U.S. housing market began to recover in midyear. Modest job gains and record-low mortgage rates fueled demand. And the supply of available homes sank. Housing boosted economic growth this year for the first time since 2005.
7. The return of big oil
Domestic crude oil production achieved its biggest one-year gain since 1951, driven by output in North Dakota and Texas. The United States is on pace to pass Saudi Arabia as the world's top oil producer within two years. Credit goes to drilling improvements, like those that have fed a boom in domestic natural- gas production - horizontal drilling combined with hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
8. Banks behaving badly
It was a banner year for bank drama. JPMorgan Chase lost $6 billion in a complex series of trades. And one of its bankers in London grew famous for big bets and became known as the "London whale." Morgan Stanley was accused of botching Facebook's IPO. An ex-banker trashed Goldman Sachs for putting profits ahead of customers and for mocking clients as "muppets."
9. Mother Nature
There wasn't enough rain in much of the nation. Then, suddenly there was much too much. The nation suffered its worst drought since the 1950s, covering 80 percent of U.S. farmland. Grain and food prices soared. Then a storm so destructive it was dubbed a "superstorm" walloped the Northeast.
10. Mobile-gadget wars
Competition in mobile technology intensified. Apple maintained its worldwide dominance. But the use of Google's Android software on competing smartphones and tablets spread faster than Apple's market share.