JEANNINE AVERSA

In 2009, the economy was near collapse before pulling back from the brink of depression. Unemployment topped 10 percent, but layoffs eased. General Motors and Chrysler toppled into bankruptcy and emerged smaller and leaner. The Dow Jones industrial average swooned to a 12-year low, then came part of the way back.

It was a year of payback for having lived beyond our means ¿ from Wall Street bankers who devoured risk they couldn't manage to ordinary Americans living in homes they couldn't afford with mortgages they didn't understand.

It was a year of finger-pointing over blame for the worst recession since the Great Depression. Americans pondered how long it would take to mend shattered nest eggs, livelihoods, government balance sheets and economic confidence.

It was a year that gave birth to buzzwords ¿ "new frugality," ''new normal" and "green shoots" ¿ that captured the fragility of America's recovery.

The economy's wild ride was voted the top business story of the year by U.S. newspaper editors surveyed by The Associated Press. The collapse of the U.S. auto industry came in second, followed by skyrocketing home foreclosures.

1. ECONOMY'S FALL ¿ AND REBOUND: In the first three months of the year, the economy suffers its worst slide in 27 years. The Federal Reserve, which already had slashed interest rates to a record low, plows money into the economy in new and novel ways.

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