As the clock winds down on 2005, let's take a quick look back at some of the meatiest business headlines that rocked the financial world in this very important year.

Better tracking of inventory may not be a very popular New Year's resolution, but it turned out to be a pretty common one in both the public and private sectors. In January, major retailers like Wal-Mart -- and even the Department of Defense -- gave radio frequency identification (RFID for short) a mainstream push by demanding that their largest suppliers begin using RFID tags on all deliveries. With these tags, a hand-held RFID reader is able to attain immediate and practically perfect merchandise counts. Inventory control will never be the same, and I wasn't told to say that just because I have an RFID chip attached to my ankle.

The ingredients for that perfect Valentine's Day proposal? Start with a quiet, romantic restaurant. True love wouldn't hurt. And, oh yeah, a $7 billion rock would really seal the deal. Yes, it's awfully quaint that Verizon (NYSE:VZ) chose Feb. 14 to announce its $7 billion acquisition of MCI. The news came two weeks after SBC's incestuous acquisition of AT&T was proposed. The telecommunications sector had been bitten by underperformance in recent years, but the consolidations certainly picked up the pace. Verizon? Here's a hint for next time: A dozen roses and a heart-shaped box of chocolates would run you considerably less.

Putting the "Oh" in CEO, fallen WorldCom chieftain Bernie Ebbers was found guilty on nine counts in one of the costliest corporate-fraud cases in history. Ebbers argued that the $14 billion crumbling of WorldCom was not his fault because he wasn't aware that the books were being cooked. It's an excuse that flew about as well as Icarus with his wings of wax-fastened feathers. The company was ultimately rebranded under the MCI banner. MCI, apparently, stands for More Cheaters Incarcerated.

Yes, you can teach an old stock exchange some new-economy tricks. In April, the New York Stock Exchange announced that it would merge with ArcaEx parent Archipelago Holdings (NYSE:AX). Trading in its closing bells for wedding bells made it difficult to value the deal at first. It was a rare case of a public company combining its operations with a larger private one. However, it wasn't long before seats on the NYSE were being exchanged at higher and higher prices. Despite some initial reservations -- no doubt from folks with an AX to grind -- the deal was approved eight months later by the vast majority from both camps.

It was a sweet move for Rule Breakers newsletter service subscribers. The recommended stock nearly tripled over the months as more and more investors warmed up to the proposed pairing.

A star was born and a bear was booted in May as mutual fund research specialist Morningstar (NASDAQ:MORN) went public and Vermont Teddy Bear was taken private. Morningstar's plan to go public through the Open IPO Dutch auction format panned out perfectly. The stock came to market at $18.50 a pop, at the high end of its expected range. The shares went on to gradually tack gains, a welcome process over some of the wild broker-driven offerings that catapult on the first trade without ever giving the individual investors a fair shot at initial ownership. As for Vermont Teddy Bear being gobbled up for a mere $6.50 a share by a private-equity firm, don't worry. I sent over a "Go Public Soon" beargram on our behalf.

Few things make the discount-brokerage industry happier than folks buying and selling. Perhaps that's why the leading players have gotten in on the buying sprees, too. In June, Ameritrade (NASDAQ:AMTD) announced that it would acquire TD Waterhouse. It was just one deal in a very active one that also had rival E*Trade agreeing to purchase both Harrisdirect and BrownCo. The sector consolidation is bound to continue, so hold on to those brokerage statements. If things keep going at this pace, you may wind up with a great set of Russian nesting dolls consisting of the various statement mastheads you accumulated.

Waking up an otherwise sleepy summer, Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) bounced back into investing favor, after the Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick returned to profitability quicker than the market was expecting. When the company entered into a price war to take on the Blockbuster threat and keep away, it worked on both fronts. Investors expected that the company's income statements would be as covered in red as the company's rectangular DVD mailers, but that proved not to be the case. And to think: This was a company created after CEO Reed Hastings got steamed after being stuck with late fees for turning in his copy of Apollo 13 late at Blockbuster. In retrospect? Best. Rental. Ever.

If you can't beat Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), you may as well match it. That's what Yahoo! may have been thinking when it launched a beta version of Yahoo! Publisher Network in August. Similar to Google's wildly popular AdSense, Yahoo! now gave small and medium-sized website publishers access to duplicating its content-matched paid-search ads in return for a piece of the click action. This follows Yahoo! raising the specs on its popular Yahoo! Mail product to match the generous freebies provided by Google's Gmail service. What's next? Will Yahoo! drop the exclamation mark because Google isn't wearing one?

Bringing new meaning to the term "red-eye flight," both Delta and Northwest filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September. The debt-laden carriers hope to bounce back stronger than ever, but the flight plan for survival won't exactly be painless. Delta, for instance, proposed job cuts, salary reductions, and a streamlining of the different types of aircraft in its fleet -- a move that has worked like a charm for the more successful low-cost carriers. If all of that fails, there may be a plan to simply repaint all the jets with Southwest logos.

In a software partnership that may have been more hype than substance, Google announced that it was teaming up with Sun Microsystems (NASDAQ:SUNW) in an effort to promote Sun's productivity-software programs. Microsoft was probably not happy with the development but didn't seem particularly threatened at first. Not to be outdone, an envious Yahoo! pondered partnering with the sun itself to keep up with the Googles next door.

With die-hard gamers braving less-than-ideal weather conditions around the country, Microsoft's Xbox 360 hit stores in limited quantities on Nov. 22. The rollout of the next-generation video game console beat out its two largest rivals by months, a move that ensured that the Xbox 360 would own the 2005 holiday shopping season. I could have probably saved those freezing shoppers from shelling out $299 or $399 for the systems by pointing out that a 360 is the geometric equivalent of coming full circle. A round trip in logic would have been, oh -- about $299 to $399 cheaper.

Proving that the five interest rate hikes in 2004 were merely a petit five, Alan Greenspan's gang of policymaking thugs (just teasing there, of course, since we all know that the Fed members are cute and cuddly) initiated eight more hikes in 2005. The last one for the departing Fed chief came in December.

Higher rates? Insane business stories? It was refreshing to see Stocks 2006 come out with a dozen stocks worth watching during the year that lies ahead. That rearview mirror was becoming dull, my fellow Fools. At the very least, Stocks 2006 allows us to bury the tired corporate headlines for 2005 once and for all. Nothing makes the past as obsolete as future stock pick ideas. That's because history doesn't always repeat. If it did, my job would be a lot easier in 12 months, when it's time to recap the big stories of 2006.

Until next year, I remain,

Rick Munarriz

Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Amazon, AT&T, and Netflix are recommendations of the Motley Fool Stock Advisor newsletter, and Archipelago is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz doesn't know what to do first -- make some New Year's resolutions or break them. He does own shares in Netflix. The Motley Fool has an ironclad disclosure policy. Rick is part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.