Jim Zarroli

No one predicted what a tumultuous, stomach-churning year 2020 would be for the stock markets. And few foresaw how well it would end up.

Here are the highlights:

Stocks in meltdown

Between Feb. 12 and March 23, the Dow lost a stunning 37% of its value.

Economic benefits for victims of the pandemic will expire soon if Congress and the president don't act to extend or replace them.

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Updated at 10:33 a.m. ET

You probably think 2020 has turned out to be a pretty lousy year, what with the coronavirus pandemic, a global recession and unceasing partisan warfare in Washington.

Then again, you're not Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk.

Thanks to soaring stock prices at Tesla, the company Musk founded, the quirky South African-born entrepreneur has seen his personal wealth soar to unimaginable heights of $147 billion.

Updated at 6:27 p.m. ET

The Federal Reserve will comply with the Treasury Department's request to let key coronavirus emergency lending programs expire at the end of the year after the two agencies had earlier engaged in an unusual clash over the fate of the funds.

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The Small Business Administration may have handed out billions of dollars in loans to businesses that falsely claimed to have been damaged by the coronavirus lockdowns, a report from the agency said on Wednesday.

Officials at the agency were so inundated with requests for disaster aid starting last March that they couldn't adequately vet the applicants, according to the report from the Office of SBA Inspector General Michael Ware.

Updated at 4:11 p.m. ET

Stocks fell sharply on Wednesday as a spike in coronavirus cases in the United States and Europe is raising the prospect of further lockdowns that could hurt the global economy.

At the close, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 943 points, a decline of 3.4%, and is in negative territory for the month. The S&P 500 fell 3.5%, its third consecutive decline, and is down over 8% from its record high in early September.

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Updated at 5 p.m. ET

Stocks on Monday posted their worst day since early September amid a surge in coronavirus cases in the United States and Europe and declining optimism about another U.S. pandemic relief bill.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the day down 650 points, or 2.3%, posting its biggest decline since Sept. 3. The other major indexes were also down, though not as much.

Nine current or former Goldman Sachs executives, including CEO David Solomon, will have to pay back hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation over a bribery scandal in Malaysia.

Goldman has faced regulatory probes in the United States and Malaysia over allegations that it enabled billions of dollars to be siphoned off from a Malaysian development fund and over bribes paid to government officials. The scandal that ensued led to the resignation of the Asian country's prime minister.

Updated at 3:16 p.m. ET

The U.S. budget deficit soared to a record $3.1 trillion, following a massive surge in government spending aimed at containing the economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic.

The deficit for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30 was more than triple that of fiscal 2019 and easily eclipsed the previous record of $1.4 trillion recorded in 2009.

With an apartment on glitzy Park Avenue and a hefty portfolio of stocks, retired investment manager Morris Pearl seems comfortably ensconced in the 1%.

And one thing helps him stay there: The taxes he pays are lower than those of the average elementary school teacher.

"I, for instance, have not worked since 2014," says Pearl, who was a managing director at BlackRock, one of the world's largest investment firms. He now earns a living from his investments. "I'm doing fairly well ... my tax rate is in the teens."

Updated at 4:35 p.m. ET

Stocks finished sharply higher after President Trump said he's open to stand-alone bills to aid airlines and small businesses, a reversal from statements he made earlier.

Sometimes, Melissa Michelson feels like she has created a monster when she hears from voters in the 2020 election.

"When they mention how many texts they get, I say, 'I am so sorry I feel personally responsible,' " says Michelson, a political science professor at Menlo College in California.

More than a decade ago, Michelson conducted an experiment to see if text messages could be used to increase voter participation in San Mateo County in California.

Updated at 5:02 p.m. ET

Stocks slid for the third session in a row as technology shares lost more ground and a steep drop in oil prices hit energy shares.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average slumped 632 points, or 2.25%, while the S&P 500 fell 2.8%.

The Nasdaq composite index retreated 4.1% and entered correction territory after falling more than 10% from last week's high.

Updated at 5:12 p.m. ET

Stocks experienced their worst day since June, with a sudden plunge Thursday in big tech shares such as Apple and Amazon driving the S&P 500 index down 3.5% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 2.8%.

The dizzying drop in prices follows a string of record-high trading days, largely fueled by a few superstar tech stocks, such as Facebook, Apple and Amazon.

On election night 2016, Gretchen Sisson was so sure Hillary Clinton would defeat Donald Trump that she and her husband invited 80 people to their San Francisco home for a party. They even had a giant sheet cake made that celebrated suffragists and the Equal Rights Amendment. On the side was written, "Madam President."

That's not how it turned out. Trump won in a stunning outcome, and no one could bear to eat. Afterward, Sisson and her family ended up eating the cake themselves for weeks. It was, she says now, a lesson in hubris.

President Trump loves talking about the booming stock market. It's not so clear Wall Street loves him back.

For the first time in a decade, deep-pocketed donors from the halls of finance are giving more money to Democrats than Republicans, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a research group that tracks money in politics.

Stuck at home this spring, University of Nebraska student Alexander Kearns spent his empty hours buying and selling stocks online, learning as much as he could about investing.

"He sounded like a kid that was really, really excited to be studying something that he found interesting," says Bill Brewster, his cousin by marriage.

What no one knew was that Kearns had been trading options on a popular app called Robinhood, and at some point appears to have mistakenly concluded he had lost more than $730,000.

Cruz Santos thought her life was finally turning around in early March when she found a job at a shoe store after months of looking.

Two weeks later, the store shut down, throwing her back onto the unemployment lines, and leaving her and her three school-age kids at risk of losing the one-bedroom Bronx apartment where they live.

"I don't know what's going to happen and if they're going to kick me out of my apartment. And that's something hard, you know. You can hardly even sleep sometimes," Santos says.

Already a Wall Street superstar, Tesla turned a profit for the fourth straight quarter, an important milestone that will make it eligible to join the S&P 500 stock index for the first time.

The economy is tanking across the country, with layoffs and bankruptcies as far as the eye can see. But the richest sliver of the country continues to do quite well, thank you.

The latest evidence came Wednesday morning as Goldman Sachs, the bluest of blue-chip banks, said it's raking in money on Wall Street.

While other banks are warning about rising loan losses during the recession, Goldman, which tends to serve a higher-end clientele, is sounding a pretty optimistic note.

Updated at 12:45 p.m. ET

The dramatic collapse of the U.S. economy from the coronavirus is pummeling America's largest banks, raising new concerns about how much growth is slowing.

They fume and rage and demand their rights. Sometimes they even get violent.

In the age of COVID-19, most people practice social distancing guidelines when they go into stores and restaurants, putting on masks and standing 6 feet behind other customers.

Still, there are the nightmare customers — those who refuse to comply.

"I've had a lot of conflict. I've had a lot of pushback from people," says Brenda Leek, owner of Curbside Eatery in La Mesa, Calif.

Updated at 4:07 p.m. ET

Stocks plunged Thursday amid reports of a second wave of coronavirus cases, as well as a warning from Fed officials that the economy may take longer than first thought to recover.

After the coronavirus lockdowns forced it to shut down its 345 U.S. theaters, Texas-based Cinemark in April decided to do what a lot of companies have done: borrow money by selling bonds.

It's counterintuitive.

At a time of roiling civil unrest and an unprecedented economic crisis, stock prices are chugging along quite nicely. In fact, they have rebounded sharply since the dark days of March.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which lost 37% of its value between Feb. 12 and March 23, has now regained more than two-thirds of the ground it lost. Same with the broader S&P 500 index.

Trevon Ellis spent years building up his north Minneapolis barbershop, the Fade Factory, luring customers with smart haircuts, snacks and friendly conversation.

It took just one terrible night to destroy it all.

"Inside is totally burned down," Ellis says. "Everything was burned to a crisp."

The recent wave of protests against police brutality has left a trail of chaos and destruction in many city neighborhoods, with countless businesses looted and damaged.

The coronavirus has taken a hatchet to municipal budgets everywhere, forcing cities and towns to lay off librarians, parks workers and even first responders like police and firefighters.

From big cities like Detroit to small towns like Ogdensburg, N.Y., workers are being furloughed, programs are being cut and major capital projects are being shelved.

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