12/19/2011 02:33 pm ET | Updated Dec 19, 2011

Occupy Wall Street, BofA Debit Fees And More: The 11 Biggest Business Stories Of 2011

Characters from multiple continents and various walks of life rocked the business world this year.

The Occupy movement forced income inequality to the forefront as lawmakers, pundits and others wrestled with objections to money's influence in politics. U.S. lawmakers pushed the nation to the brink of default as the debated how best to wrestle with the budget deficit, but it still wasn't enough. Even after they reached a deal, America saw its credit downgraded for the first time ever, leading to near-record stock volatility in August.

At the same time that politicians were squabbling and investors were panicking, ordinary Americans were still reeling from the Great Recession, despite living in an economy that is technically in recovery. Unemployment hovered near 9 percent for most of the year, while foreclosed homeowners watched officials negotiate a settlement with five major lenders that many criticized as not having enough teeth.

In addition, Americans contended with a boost in fees on once-free checking account services. But the most notorious -- a proposed Bank of America $5 charge for consumers to use their debit cards for purchases -- was ultimately scrapped.

Across the pond, Europeans were also coping with economic woes that threaten to break up the eurozone and hurt the U.S. economy. Though the crisis started in Greece it quickly spread across the continent, prompting borrowing costs to spike in Italy and more financially stable countries such as France and Belgium. Eurozone leaders struck an agreement in December aimed at stymieing the crisis, still many experts don't think it will be enough to prevent further fallout.

These stories were big in 2011 and many aren't over yet. Keep checking HuffPost Business next year to watch how they play out.

Here are the biggest business stories of 2011:

Biggest Stories Of 2011

Harry Bradford contributed to this post.