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With the wild ride that was mostly on the books in 2021, it is clear, in retrospect, that the biggest headlines of the year were money, finance and the economy. In fact, four of the top five most wanted news items of the year were about money in one way or another. Using data from the annual year in Google’s search, GOBankingRates identified the financial keywords that defined the year. It doesn’t take long to see that fears, hopes, worries, and dreams about money were not far off most people in 2021.
See: Stimulus Checks, Inflation, and More of the Biggest Financial News of the Year
To get a glimpse of the US finances in 2021, the most searched phrase across the year news category was “Mega Millions.” For those who don’t know, you will be instantly catapulted into the top 1% by guessing an impossible sequence of numbers or asking a cash register to guess it for you – and 2021 was certainly a good year to be a part of to win it.
The year witnessed three of the top 10 lottery jackpots in history:
- $ 731.1 million Powerball on January 20th
- $ 1.05 billion Mega Millions on Jan. 22
- $ 699.8 million Powerball on October 4th
See, $ 1 million is no longer the standard nest egg – that’s how much most Americans think they actually need to retire
The most famous meme stock of 2021 – and so far in history – was GameStop. But it was “AMC stock” that turned out to be the number 2 most searched word of the year in Google’s entire news category. AMC made headlines when Reddit users launched a GameStop-inspired short squeeze to start the stock at 2,500% profit in the first half of the year.
The second half of the year was not so friendly, however. The honeymoon was over in winter, and by mid-December, AMC was more than 60% below its spring highs. According to CNBC, investors generally appear to be dumping risky meme stocks when 2021 winds down – GameStop also had a brutal winter.
Check Out: Crypto, Meme Stocks, and Other Top Investment Trends in 2021
Unlike Reddit’s favorite meme stocks and Mega Millions jackpots, the third most searched for financial term of the year was the one thing that made almost everyone a little richer in 2021 – “stimulus check”.
At the heart of the Biden administration’s American bailout plan, the checks began arriving in March, giving most Americans $ 1,400 – $ 2,800 for couples filed together – plus an additional $ 1,400 for each qualified loved one.
The number 5 most wanted news of the year – Georgia Senate Election was # 4 – adds another meme stock to the list. “GME Stock” refers to the ticker symbol of GameStop, the video game retail chain that made headlines and history earlier this year when amateur day traders successfully short-played some of Wall Street’s most powerful tycoons on Reddit.
The move demonstrated the power of democratized investing in a world where even the smallest of investors could trade for free without paying fees or brokerage commissions. The moment that caught the attention of the public – who loves an outsider, of course – shattered financial industry confidence and made many GameStop investors rich.
The Meme stock craze proved capricious, however, and the year ended with a painful sell-off that cratered both GameStock and AMC by about 30% in December alone.
See: The biggest social security problems
A $ 1,000 investment in Dogecoin on Jan. 1 would have grown to more than $ 121,000 during the spring high, according to CNBC, thanks to a 12,000% increase between January and May. Dogecoin, the world’s first meme coin, became a crypto superstar earlier this year, largely thanks to the support of celebrities like Snoop Dogg, Gene Simmons, Mark Cuban and – most of all, and most persistently – Elon Musk.
The name of the coin, which started as a joke in 2013, was the number 6 most searched catchphrase across the news category in 2021.
Find Out: Americans Don’t Understand These Social Security Facts
How to start a business
While it’s not exactly a financial term or news story, one Google search trend spoke louder than any other. So it’s no wonder that in the year of the Side Hustle, people were more interested in becoming entrepreneurs than employees. In 2021, more people searched for “how to start a business” than for “how to get a job” – although it is also true that the search for “job interviews” was beyond pre-pandemic levels.
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About the author
Andrew Lisa has been writing professionally since 2001. Award-winning writer Andrew was formerly one of the youngest national columnists for the country’s largest newspaper syndicate, the Gannett News Service. He worked as the editor for the business section of amNewYork, Manhattan’s most popular newspaper, and worked as an editor for TheStreet.com, a financial publication in the heart of the Wall Street investment community in New York City.