The Biggest Financial Headlines of 2015

Lighting Up Marijuana


The legalization of marijuana made headlines multiple times during 2015. The issue isn’t dead yet as political figures try to figure out where to put the money that results from the sale of this illicit drug. Marijuana sales in Colorado grossed over $700 million dollars in their first year of legalization and it’s estimated to exceed that total in 2016. Where do you put that kind of money? It seems that Federal banks are reluctant to hold the revenue as it’s against the law to launder money. Essentially, this is what’s troubling legal teams and state lawmakers. Without proper ways to store the money, those businesses who distribute marijuana (recreational and medical) are targets for criminal activity, however, Colorado’s crime rate is down since this practice has been in effect.

“Saudi Arabia May Go Broke”

Saudi Arabia’s plan to alter the supply of oil so that it would flood the market and push out its competitors, turned out to be a disaster as oil prices crashed! If the future predictions for the market are accurate, Saudi Arabia will be in an empirical crisis in the next ten years. Although there are implications for a dramatic change in the economic status in the Middle East, the agreed price for delivery of US crude oil in December 2020 is set at $62.05.

“Greece Strikes Deal With Creditors”

Greece did not have enough money to pay the IMF, therefore it defaulted on its debt to pay back the sum of €458m on April 9, 2015. Not only defaulted on the loan, but also lacked coverage for salaries and social security on April 14th.  However, after overnight discussions in 2015 and a multitude of news headlines, they finally reached an agreement.

Winnings of $564 million

It was a Valentine’s Day dream come true for Marie Holmes of North Carolina in 2015. Marie was a single parent who worked hard to support four children, one of which had cerebral palsy. She and two others hit one of the largest Powerball lottery jackpots in history totaling $564 million.

“Trading resumes on NYSE after nearly 4-hour outage”

It was only 11:32 a.m. ET when the New York Stock Exchange suspended trading and was down for almost four hours. It was the day that the Dow lost 261 points, primarily due to the dip in China’s stock market and massed fears about the crisis in Greece.

“U.S. Sues Volkswagen Over Emissions Scandal”


The pressure was on Volkswagen as the case was brought before a federal judge. The US Justice Department was seeking billions in penalties from the German automaker, Volkswagen in a civil lawsuit filed in federal court in Detroit, MI. The allegations are that Volkswagen AG was cheating on emissions tests. It seems as though Volkswagen implanted devices to “dupe emissions tests in 580,000 diesel-powered vehicles,” which were sold in the US.

“Federal Reserve Hikes Interest Rates”

It was considered to be the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. After several years at the bottom of the barrel, interest rates were just short of bleeding.  However, after much worry, the Federal Reserve approved an increase that will bring some kind of normalcy back to the country.

“Martin Shkreli, the Bad Boy of Pharmaceuticals”

Martin Shkreli of Turing Pharmaceuticals, announced in August that it had raised $90 million for his biotech company. He also paid out $55 million for the marketing rights for Daraprim, a drug used for toxoplasmosis. Shortly after, in September, 2015 Martin Shkreli announced that his company would raise the prices of Daraprim. Normally, a price increase can be expected, however, this pill went from $13.50 per pill to a whopping $750! Martin goes on to claim that he made $100 million selling Retrophin stock. That was enough to raise some eyebrows and give the pharmaceuticals guru plenty of attention. In light of an investigation, Martin was arraigned in December of 2015 on charges of looting Retrophin and misrepresentation of assets. What’s more is that Martin has used his $45 million ETrade account to finance his $5 million bond.

“China FX reserves fall $512.66 bln in 2015, biggest drop on record”

China Forex Reserves

China’s foreign exchange reserves logged an astronomical drop in their annual report in 2015. China dropped 107.9 billion dollars in December. This contributed to economists looking for headache relief and frowning faces as they had multiple concerns over growing capital outflows and global financial markets. Surprisingly, it was the largest slump ever in a single month. This fall will certainly lead to questions about involvement with China in 2016.

“UN Staffers Secure at Home, Moving Targets Overseas”

The United Nations spent well over 2.2 billion dollars to strengthen security and prevent any threat of violent attacks on the East River’s 65 year old Secretariat glass home in New York.

Bonus Headlines There Weren’t So Big

401(k) Contribution Limits
For many 2015 held plenty of reasons to celebrate. Of those celebrating, 401(k) contributors received a $500 increase in contribution limits. This limitation equaled a 2.9% hike for all of its subscribers, but those 50 years old and over received as much as 4.3% increase as encouragement to “catch-up.”

IRA Distributions
There was good news for those holding IRAs after all. Congress agreed to exclude the generous and charitable donations from IRA distributions as being a form of income.