From the February 01, 2012 issue of Futures Magazine • Subscribe!

Top 25 people and events of 2011

YEAR IN REVIEW

2011 was the year of people power; whether it was the Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street, recall elections or MF Global customers fighting against the big banks, people demanded to be heard and called for change. Here’s our second annual selection of who and what we saw as the most influencial shapers of events and trends in 2011.

POLITICS

BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States. It was a tough year for the president as he fought the new Republican majority at every turn. But he also okayed the operation to kill Osama Bin Laden and led the coalition that removed Muammar Gaddafi.

TEA PARTY FRESHMEN, new Republican reps. Rarely do newly elected Congresspersons control the legislative agenda, but every time the Republican leadership hinted at compromising with the president, these all-or-nothing freshmen resisted, nearly pushing the government into default.

PAUL RYAN (R-Wisc.), Chairman of House Budget Committee. Ryan played a prominent public role in drafting and promoting the Republican Party’s long-term budget proposal. He introduced the plan, "The Path to Prosperity," in April 2011 to counter the budget proposal of President Obama. It went nowhere.

ANGELA MERKEL, Chancellor of Germany. As the Eurozone debt worries grew, Germany became perhaps the only healthy economy in the Eurozone and Merkel’s power to set the bailout agenda grew.

GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R-Wisc.) & GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-Ohio). Fresh off the GOP landslide in 2010 and perhaps misreading the breadth of the Tea Party movement, these newly elected governors overplayed their hand in restricting the bargaining rights of public employee unions. They appear to have awakened the sleeping giant of labor and both face recall elections.

CHINESE GOVERNMENT. Chinese leaders were more assertive in 2011 as the rest of the world looked for help while criticizing them for human rights and trade policy. Proof can be seen in a Dec. 27 decision by the Treasury to not label China as a currency manipulator.

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