The Top 10 Quotes of the Quarter

by Derek Loosvelt | April 10, 2009

Next week the largest banks in the U.S. will begin to unveil their first-quarter 2009 earnings, giving you just about every piece of quantitative information you ever wanted to know about the first three months of the year but were afraid to ask for. In the meantime, here’s a qualitative roundup of the major financial happenings from this past January, February and March. Without further ado, the top 10 quotes of the quarter:

10. "Certainly the executives at UBS knew what was going on."
—John DiCicco, acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s tax division, during a U.S. Senate hearing focusing on whether the Swiss bank helped thousands of wealthy Americans evade billions of dollars in taxes

9. "Mr. President, I am not going to suck up to Larry and Tim like the rest of these guys."
—Bank of America CEO Kenny “Skip To My” Lewis, referring to Director of the White House's National Economic Council Larry Summers and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, at a March meeting with President Obama and other big bank CEOs

8. "My administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks."
—President Obama to bank CEOs at the same meeting

7. "There are pretty minor, at this point, executive compensation restrictions and we'd like to get out from under those."
—Goldman Sachs CFO David Viniar in a February conference hosted by Credit Suisse in Naples, Fla., on Goldman’s desire to repay the $10 billion in TARP funds it took from the U.S. Treasury

6. "He’s the absolute right commander in chief."
—Berkshire Hathaway Chairman & CEO Warren Buffett (a.k.a. the Oracle of Omaha and world’s second-richest man) in a January interview with Tom Brokaw on “Dateline NBC” on newly-inaugurated President Obama

5. "Their option is either to take a haircut or a bath."
—Michigan Democratic Senator Carl Levin in March after President Obama delivered an ultimatum to GM and Chrysler

4. "If you don’t pay your best people, you will destroy your franchise."
—Former Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain in a January interview with CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo responding to the question, "How can you justify losing $15 billion in a three-month period and still be paying out [$4 billion in] bonuses?"  

3. "They were a mistake in the light of the world we live in today."
—Former Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain in a January memo to top executives, one week after he was ousted, apologizing for spending $1.2 million to renovate his office in 2008

2. "He should be put in a solitary cell with a screen, and on the screen, for at least five years of his life, [would be] pictures of his victims."
—Nobel Peace Prize–winning author Elie Wiesel (whose charitable organization lost $15.2 million in Bernie “Arthur Ponzerelli” Madoff’s investment-fraud scheme) during a February panel discussion on Madoff at New York City’s 21 Club

1. "I would suggest [they] follow the Japanese example and come before the American people and take that deep bow and say, 'I'm sorry,' and then either do one of two things: resign or go commit suicide."
—Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley in a March radio interview, recommending the course of action that AIG executives take after it was reported that they received $165 million in bonuses

Filed Under: Finance


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