The revolution in Libya was the most striking incarnation of the Arab Spring, which also toppled leaders in Tunisia and Egypt. Just eight months later, Colonel Gaddafi was killed, while his family were captured or exiled.
With a death toll near 16,000, the Japanese earthquake and tsunami was truly devastating. Disrupted supply chains hit the global economy, which was already in the doldrums, while the ensuing nuclear disaster hurt the industry’s image.
Portugal became the third Eurozone nation to ask for a bailout, following in the footsteps of Greece and Ireland. Few believe there is enough firepower to bail out the next countries at risk, Italy and Spain.
Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the September 11 attacks, was finally captured and killed at his compound in Pakistan during a covert CIA operation ordered by Barack Obama, providing a rare fillip for the American President.
Dominique Strauss-Kahn, then tipped to be the next French President, was forced to quit his top job at the IMF after being charged with sexually assaulting a hotel maid in New York. All charges were subsequently dropped.
Bureaucrats in Brussels continued their assault on the City by voting for a Tobin tax on financial transactions that would disadvantage London. The proposal is now supported by the French and Germans.
News Corp abandoned its bid to buy the 61 per cent of BSkyB that it didn’t already own, following outrage over the phone hacking scandal at the News of the World. Even the closure of the 168-year-old title could not save the BSkyB bid.
President Obama faced his toughest test, after the Republican-controlled House of Representatives refused to raise the debt ceiling, potentially putting the US at risk of default. A messy deal was eventually reached, but it didn’t stop S&P from stripping the US of its triple-A rating.
The European debt crisis returned with a vengeance in August. Billions were wiped off the value of firms while the amount it costed indebted governments to borrow soared. Despite several grand-sounding plans, European leaders failed to find a solution.
Unruly mobs held London hostage while Britain’s leaders sunned themselves abroad. Eventually the Prime Minister returned from his holiday in Italy, but not before the riots killed six and caused £200m of damage.
Sir John Vickers and his Independent Commission on Banking recommended that banks’ retail operations be ring-fenced away from investment banking, in one of the biggest shake-ups in financial regulation in recent times.
Swiss investment bank UBS was plunged into crisis, after it announced it had lost $2bn due to unauthorised trading by one of its employees. The bank’s boss Oswald Gruebel was forced to quit, as were other top executives.
The euro debt crisis refused to abate. Investors fled risky assets and piled into UK gilts, German bunds and US treasuries.
Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple and the genius behind its iPod, iPhone and iPad, died aged 56 following a long battle with cancer.
MF Global collapsed after a huge bet on European sovereign debt went horribly wrong.
Silvio Berlusconi became the most high-profile European leader to fall on his sword, after Italy’s borrowing costs soared to unsustainable highs.
António Horta-Osório, the Lloyds boss who shocked the City by going on stress leave, announced he would return to the bank in 2012.