NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- If Americans across the land can spend hours if not days discussing a subject as mindless as whether Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg deserved Time's Person of the Year, it's high time for a healthy round of debate over the biggest market villain in 2010. Time it should also be noted, has never shied away from selecting villains as the most important annual person.

The market optimist may now be turning his attention to the outlook for 2011, and the new year's first week of trading got off to a bullish start on Monday morning. However, there's value in a quick look back at the best (or worst) of the nefarious candidates for biggest market villain of 2010, before consigning these characters to history. The fact of the matter is that many of the biggest market villains in 2010 may rear their ugly heads again in 2011; a line-up of the usual suspects provides a de facto outlook on potential masterminds of market mayhem in 2011.

Granted, 2010 wasn't a bad year at all for the markets, with the S&P 500 closing the year up close to 13% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average not far off that pace. The unemployment rate remains way too high and the housing market enters the next year as it exits 2010 -- a mess. All in all, though, after record corporate profits in the third quarter and a bevy of improving fundamental economic indicators toward year-end -- losing days for the market in December were few, if not far between -- things are looking moderately OK for the U.S. economy.

It doesn't mean the usual cast of characters didn't do what they do best in 2010 -- rile the markets and try to throw a wrench into the economic recovery plans:

Environmental disasters!

Ghouls of the financial meltdown still haunting the U.S. road back from recession!

"Sh**ty deals!"

Meddling politicians who just won't get off the back of well-meaning capitalists!

Mindless machines and algorithms that edge us closer every day to a financial world which not even Arthur C. Clarke might have imagined!

Entire continents on the verge of slipping off the economic-tectonic plate that supports them!

That's right, 2010 has been a year of market chicanery, market idiocy, market manipulation and market implosions that are all worthy of being given their due as the opportunity for making a muddle of the markets, at least for one calendar year, ends. So step right up and place your vote for the Biggest Market Villain of 2010.

And the nominees -- and potential thorn in the side of the markets again in 2011 -- are...

Biggest Market Villain 2010 Nominee No. 1: The Euro

If Time can be so esoteric as to choose "you" as the Person of the Year (2006), we feel no qualms about nominating a currency for market villain of 2010.

I mean, is it really that hard to imagine the euro as some kind of schizophrenic, megalomaniac James Bond villain, speaking with some strange amalgamated European accent, after what the Euro zone currency put us all through in 2010?

I could swear that if there were a penny for every time a 2010 business news headline stated, "Euro woes sink the markets" or "European sovereign debt crisis leads markets lower," even European budget managers might be able to balance their books.

And those proverbial pennies will keep piling up in 2011. Systematic risk to Europe's financial system remains a marquee issue headed into 2011. Reports of the impending death of the European Union are -- if a little sensationalistic -- certainly not impossible to imagine given the dastardly deeds of the European budget minders.

In the good ole US of A rhetoric, it's easy to "hate" the French and their snobby nature, and even easier to make fun of Germans for their seeming lack of humor. Yet when it comes to truly, deeply, despising Europe for sound investment reasons, there's actually a basis for imagining the euro as an evil genius on his remote island -- if not with the shine of a bald-headed villain, having the metallic sheen of a coin and the mental corrosion of a 1972 penny.

The euro is looking up at his multiple video screen array within his cave compound -- Greeks protesting in streets on fire, another painful meeting of the International Monetary Fund, German chancellor Angela Merkel trying to get all the indebted kids in the sandbox to play well with others -- and the euro takes glee in the sights of 2010 chaos, salivating as his dream of sheer anarchy being loosed upon the world verges closer to reality.

Biggest Market Villain 2010 Nominee No. 2: The Robo-Signer

If the arbiter of annual high and lows in global notoriety, Time, saw fit to give the computer top billing in 1982 as Machine of the Year, it's not a stretch to say that the Biggest Market Villain of 2010 might not be a European currency or a person, but an unfeeling motherboard or semiconductor.

In fact, the next two nominees for biggest market villain of the year come from the world of robotics and supercomputing.

There is no shortage of actual living and breathing poster children for the fine mess otherwise known as the U.S. housing crisis, but in 2010, it was the very impersonal robo-signer who served as the Terminator in the apocalyptic-- or is it by now post-apocalyptic ? -- housing market.

JPMorgan Chase ( JPM) and Bank of America ( BAC) were among the financial sector heavyweights that had to suspend foreclosures across the land as the robo-signer was dragged out into the public in the fall of 2010.

Of course, the fact that the army of unfeeling robo-signers are actually flesh-and-blood people only makes it that much more an act of villainy that they acted like robots in piling high the mass grave of foreclosures. Time once gave Hitler the annual honor, and would it be going too far in this case to compare the robo-signers to those concentration camp guards who were "simply following orders" and didn't even really know what was going on?

Of course that's going too far, but it's not going too far to contend that the homeowner holocaust is far from done, and 2011 may be an even bigger year in foreclosures than this year, and even if the robo-signer is only a cog in the malfunctioning real estate machine, we're nominating it as poster-child -- or, we should say poster-army, for the unthinking bureaucrats short-circuiting the housing market for yet another year.

Biggest Market Villain 2010 Nominee No. 3: The High-Frequency Trading Machine

The markets may have rebounded nicely in 2010, but many former investors were still sitting on the fence when it came to the debate about rejoining the market madness. Many months of outflows from mutual funds within 2010 was often cited as a sign of the growing lack of faith in equities from the average Main Street investor.

If the robo-signer was the inanimate symbol of the continuing lack of faith in a functioning U.S. housing market, lack of fundamental faith in broader equities was represented in 2010 by the flash crash epidemic and the high-frequency trading (HFT) machines often associated with algorithmic mayhem.

The Securities and Exchange Commission and the major exchanges may claim to have put their fat fingers on the flash crash phenomenon and to have implemented the circuit-breakers in place to stop future market short-circuits like the one that sank shares of Procter & Gamble ( PG) during the infamous events of May 6.

However, not every investor is so trusting. The circuit-breakers haven't exactly worked as planned, and critics of the regulatory oversight process and exchange model of cozying up to high-fee generating clients in the trading community believe there is a vast conspiracy to shut the little guy out and funnel all the profits to the HFT hard drives.

The little guy is always getting the shaft when it comes to the real opportunity in the markets, isn't he? As the year ends, the SEC is focused on the expert networks that have been supplying hedge funds with the type of insider trading information to which the average investor is never privy.

However, it's not the living and breathing expert network investigators or the robo-signers who best represent the increasingly impersonal nature of all things financial, and the mechanical villainy that underlies it all.

It's an air-conditioned room of computer servers in Stamford, Connecticut -- and not even the hedge fund manager's mansion -- that many frustrated investors point the finger at when opting to keep their money under the mattress.

It's the fact that a conspiracy theory even exists among investors that pins all the market blame on an unthinking machine that really shows how divided the investment world was in 2010 between the haves and have nots.

Biggest Market Villain 2010 Nominee No. 4: Fabulous Fabrice Tourre, Goldman Sachs

Let's face it. It's impossible to imagine a year during which Goldman Sachs ( GS), in one form or another, would find itself struggling to make this infamous nominee list.

Given the ongoing problems in the U.S. housing market, and the fact that it wouldn't be fair to pin it all on the anonymous robo-signer, Goldman's Fabrice Tourre seems like a fine choice for Biggest Market Villain of 2010.

Tourre may think it's just one more "sh**ty deal" to drag him into the public spotlight again, but the problems in the housing market aren't going away just because the arbitrary divider of one year on a numerical calendar ends.

Goldman settled the charges brought by the SEC in 2010, charges stemming from Fabulous Fab's creation of the Abacus series of mortgage-backed investments that lined the pockets of hedge fund manager John Paulson. Not surprisingly, in the white-gloved way that deals are worked out between the SEC and Wall Street titans, Goldman settled without admitting any wrongdoing.

Yet regardless of the annals of legal history, we'll always have the Paris native's own words to really remember what went down when Tourre was lining up the beady beads of his own personal, deceptive, mortgage market abacus.

"The whole building is about to collapse anytime now.... Only potential survivor, the fabulous Fab ... standing in the middle of all these complex, highly leveraged, exotic trades he created without necessarily understanding all of the implications of those monstrosities sic !!!"

Well said, Fabrice. You stand in the middle of our list for Biggest Market Villain of 2010, a monstrosity of the worst of the market story in 2010 if there ever were one, and to be fair, probably a monster brought to life by the Street's No. 1 mad scientist, Dr. Blankfein.

Biggest Market Villain 2010 Nominee No. 5: President Obama

Many free market fundamentalists said the charges against Goldman Sachs stemming from Tourre's monstrosity were nothing more than a convenient excuse for the famously anti-business President Obama to once again blame it all on the easy targets in the business world, the vampire squid being easiest among all of the corporate elite. Incite some more Main Street rage you White House socialist!

In the least, 2010 was a year that began with President Obama as Socialist in Chief, with the health care reform being signed into law and finally turning the free market health care system in the U.S. into a Soviet-esque system featuring Death Panels.

Dodd-Frank financial reform is just a minor harbinger of the socialism to come under President Obama when compared to the health care takeover.

What about the fact that President Obama signed into law a tax cut package that's going to cost $858 billion, and that includes big tax benefits for corporations and saves the elite Americans from having to pay what even Warren Buffett said was their fair share? The socialist president's hand was simply forced into a corner by the mid-term elections.

What about the fact that Obama's team oversaw the rebirth of General Motors ( GM) and the biggest U.S. initial public offering of 2010?

None of it changes the fact that Obama wasn't born in the U.S. and remains committed to destroying the very principles of a free market economy.

Can you sense that we are a little anti the anti-business rhetoric that too easily is applied to any democratic President? As we've said before, a case can be made that President Obama has acted like the best Republican president the Republicans never had. This isn't to say Main Street will agree with this pushback against the Glenn Beck rhetoric.

To paraphrase the most sympathetic news source covering President Obama's efforts to manage a messed up economy: We report. You decide. Or in other words, we report (with a heavy dose of sarcasm), yet when it comes to choosing the biggest market villain of 2010, you decide, you knee-jerk free-market Obama-haters fighting the good fight of protecting the USA from socialism.

Biggest Market Villain 2010 Nominee No. 6: Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke

If President Obama is the public sector Tweedle Dee among Biggest Market Villains in 2010 -- and any year that he remains President, for that matter -- the Fed's Bernanke has to be the public sector's Tweedle Dum.

Bernanke is not far from Obama in candidates for Main Street wrath. Bernanke isn't called a socialist, but he is the man sending America to hell in a hand basket of debt, and he's been a candidate for this award pretty much every year in recent history, too.

Even as the Troubled Asset Relief Program showed itself to be a tidy profit maker for Uncle Sam and the U.S. taxpayer in 2010, with Citigroup ( C) share sales by the government the biggest TARP payday, QE2 came into focus as an economic cruise ship doomed to sink the U.S. economy, a latter day Titanic that couldn't see $600 billion in Treasury purchases as just the tip of a fatal iceberg.

Bernanke even took to 60 Minutes to curry some favor with the public, however, he just ended up putting his foot in his mouth with the comment that he was 100% certain that the Fed could manage inflation and act quickly to head off any potential problems stemming from another round of quantitative easing. If there is one thing that Americans are certain of after the recession it's that when push comes to shove, the economic powers that be don't have dominion over anything.

It's no coincidence that in the year of Bernanke's living dangerously with QE2, and a veritable revolt in many corners of the economic world -- even within the Fed -- a revolt about the dangers of another short-term Fed buying spree being yet another form of wrong-headed government intervention in the markets, Bernanke's arch nemesis, Texas congressman Ron Paul, came into control of the House committee overseeing the Fed, the Domestic Monetary Policy Subcommittee.

With Ron Paul and his amassed rhetorical weapons of Fed destruction having their moment under the Capitol Hill sun, it would be hard to not include Bernanke among the nominees for Biggest Market Villain in 2010. Yet an unthinking entity incapable of hate like a high-frequency trading machine or robo-signer could even come up with this nomination year in, year-out.

It's fair to say that even with a socialist in the White House, when it comes to the public sector market villains, Bernanke is Goldman.

Biggest Market Villain 2010 Nominee No. 7: Former BP CEO Tony Hayward

In 1982, Time chose the Planet Earth as planet of the year, for the first time in the history of the Person of the Year award giving the honor to a member of the solar system.

Well, 2010 was the year of the planet earth, too, just from a more devastating perspective , with the Haiti earthquake, Indian subcontinent flooding, Iceland volcano eruptions, Chilean mining story, Massey Energy ( MEE) mine disaster, and of course, topping it all in environmental lows that can't be blamed on unfeeling, merciless Mother Nature, the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Unlike some of the other environmental headlines of 2010, such as the Iceland volcano and Asian flooding, the BP oil spill had a lasting impact on many companies in the energy sector and its effects are still being felt in terms of the long-range outlook for offshore drilling in the U.S.

Just think how badly Hayward and BP screwed it up for everyone in the drilling business. Why President Obama, that socialist, had just approved the first expansion of U.S. offshore drilling in decades, right before BP's Macondo well ruptured.

The energy sector has rebounded strongly to end the year, as crude's move up has people talking of an oil barrel at $100 in 2011, and BP shares recovered along with the entire sector, with many of the oil majors ending the year at 52-week highs.

For one year, at least, Tony Hayward came in for more abuse than Goldman's Lloyd Blankfein, or President Obama, or Ben Bernanke, no easy feat.

From "I would like my life back," to "a guesstimate is just a guesstimate" and the infamous yachting excursion that Hayward took while oil still gushed into the Gulf of Mexico, the former BP CEO had a knack for making all the wrong decisions in crisis management. It's likely that Hayward and BP's decisions during the oil spill will be studied for years to come by crisis management experts working with the biggest global corporations and ultimately amassed in one huge file called "How not to proceed when the (insert Goldman Abacus deal email word variation here) hits the fan."

Hayward's mismanagement may have not impacted Time's 2006 winner personally, "you." The BP oil spill may not have devastated the entire 1988 Time winner, the planet earth, but it does continue to wreak havoc on a big swatch of U.S. soil, waters, wildlife, etc., and an entire region's economy, and the final price tag and environmental impacts are still anybody's guess, or should we say anybody's guesstimate.

BP will have its day, many of them, in court, but you can pass your judgment on BP and Hayward well before then.

Indeed, all this hateful talk about biggest market villain nominees raises the despicable question, Who was the Biggest Market Villain of 2010? Take our poll below, and see who TheStreet loathed most this year....

Who was the Biggest Market Villain of 2010?

The Euro
The Robo-Signer
The High-Frequency Trading Machine
Fabulous Fabrice Tourre
President Obama
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke
Former BP CEO Tony Hayward

-- Written by Eric Rosenbaum from New York.

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