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The year's top-read business stories

Globe and Mail Update

(Blair Gable/© 2009, Blair Gable Photography)

From the stark warning that "There will be blood" and the stock selloff that followed AIG's earnings report in March, to the GM Canada pension bailout and, neither last nor least, an investor clinic on dividend stocks, here are the most-read business stories of 2009 on globeandmail.com.

1. Feb. 24: 'There will be blood'

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Harvard author and financial crisis guru Niall Ferguson has landed with a thud in Ottawa, spreading messages that could make even the most confident policy makers squirm.

The global crisis is far from over, has only just begun, and Canada is no exception, Mr. Ferguson said in an interview before delivering a presentation to public-policy think tank, Canada 2020.

Policy makers and forecasters who see a recovery next year are probably lying to boost public confidence, he said. And the crisis will eventually provoke political conflict, albeit not on the scale of a world war, but violent all the same.

"There will be blood."

Read the full story: 'There will be blood'

2. March 6: Canada envy, amid a global meltdown

Canada's banks are finally getting some respect.

Derided for years as meek and mild while banks around the world expanded wildly, suddenly the reputation of Canada's big lenders as prudent and sometimes downright boring has become an asset instead of a liability.

U.S. President Barack Obama has heaped praise on the management of this country's financial system. Ireland is considering overhauling its system to look more like Canada's. Financial papers around the world are running headlines such as "Canada banks prove envy of the world."

Read the full story: Canada envy, amid a global meltdown

3. March 14: Canada's dirty subprime secret

From the ramshackle, plywood deck on Brad Goodyear's rural Vancouver Island home, most people see piles of trash, a mattress, abandoned appliances and heaps of salmon fishing nets.

Mortgage lenders, however, have looked at the same property and, until recently, seen nothing but cash.

But after two decades of continually borrowing up - plowing through mortgages from Royal Bank, private lenders and credit unions, until settling on two subprime lenders - the 46-year-old fisherman has landed in a foreclosure proceeding.

Read the full story:

4. Jan. 18: Ignatieff to call for changes to budget

Liberal MPs emerged from a meeting last night saying they expect their leader, Michael Ignatieff, will demand changes to yesterday's Conservative budget in return for their support.

Mr. Ignatieff, who will outline his approach today, said earlier he was torn by the decision over whether to support the minority Conservatives' budget, which pledges $40-billion in spending to fight the recession and a deficit of $85-billion over five years.

It's unclear whether the Liberals would demand substantive changes or more minor concessions.

Read the full story: Ignatieff to call for changes to budget

5. March 2: AIG loss spooks markets

North American markets sustained heavy losses Monday after insurer American International Group Inc. rattled already shaky investor confidence with the biggest quarterly corporate loss in U.S. history - $61.7-billion (U.S.).

"I think it's the magnitude people are surprised at," said Gareth Watson, Canadian equity adviser at Scotia Capital.

"They're not surprised by the fact they lost billions of dollars; everyone knew that was coming - maybe not $61-billion, though. People wonder: Who is next? What is next? What's to come? And we have months of this weakness ahead of us."

Toronto's S&P/TSX composite index dropped 435.51 points, or 5.35 per cent, to 7,687.51, its worst level since the fall of 2003.

Read the full story: AIG loss spooks markets

6. Sept. 9: All about dividend stocks

If you're looking for relatively stable investments with tax benefits and bond-beating yields, take a look at dividend stocks. They're not just for seniors. Which ones should be part of your portfolio? Here's a roundup of some of the Globe's recent coverage of dividend stocks.

Read the full story: All about dividend stocks

7. Oct. 5: Bell, Telus confirm iPhone launch

BCE Inc.'s Bell Canada and Telus Corp. will begin selling the iPhone next month, breaking the stranglehold on the iconic device that rival Rogers Communications Inc. has held for more than a year.

The country's two largest incumbent telecom companies, under pressure to re-ignite growth as new wireless competitors begin operations this year, are banking on Apple Inc.'s ground-breaking smart phone to help them sign up bigger-spending customers and shift the balance of power in Canada's mobile market.

Read the full story: Bell, Telus confirm iPhone launch

8. March 10: In London, the party's over and the hangover is setting in

An economics student could get a crash course on the financial disaster by walking through Canary Wharf, the greatest concentration of banks, securities dealers and asset managers beyond Manhattan.

The ultramodern towers in East London, conceived some 20 years ago by Canadian developer Paul Reichmann, still shine on the banks of the Thames. But the exterior glow masks interior rot.

Read the full story: In London, the party's over and the hangover is setting in

9. May 22: Taxpayers fork out billions for GM pension aid

General Motors of Canada Ltd. will use billions of dollars in government loans to reduce its yawning pension deficit under a cost-cutting labour agreement that removes a major obstacle to the troubled auto maker obtaining $6-billion in federal and provincial aid.

The tentative agreement with the Canadian Auto Workers union paves the way for Ottawa and Ontario to join Washington in massive bailout of the staggering auto giant, which is expected to submit a new restructuring plan to U.S. President Barack Obama within days.

Read the full story: Taxpayers fork out billions for GM pension aid

10. Jan. 14: Nortel files for bankruptcy protection

Former technology titan Nortel Networks Corp. filed for bankruptcy protection Wednesday, a move that will likely see what was once Canada's great corporate success story broken up and sold to foreign rivals.

Nortel's board of directors was meeting last night to deal with a financial crisis, as the economic downturn translates into a sharp drop in orders from phone company clients. The telecom-hardware manufacturer failed to find buyers for a number of divisions that were put up for sale in September, and faces the prospect of paying $107-million (U.S.) of interest on its debts tomorrow.

"It is an iconic Canadian name and there will be a great national grieving over this," said one person familiar with Nortel's plans.

Read the full story: Nortel files for bankruptcy protection

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