The Year’s 10 Most Jaw-Dropping Business Quotes

  • "I would characterize it as a distant relationship. I was never a part of the Andrew Cuomo fan club," Steve Rattner sniffed, getting bitchy on "Charlie Rose" about Andrew Cuomo after the attorney general and governor-elect ruined the former car czar's big coming out party. On the day of General Motors' initial public offering -- what should have been a day of celebration for Rattner, who engineered the automaker's restructuring -- Cuomo slapped him with two lawsuits and sought a lifetime ban from the securities industry for the financier. "We knew each other from Democratic politics, he certainly tried to cultivate my support, going back to when he was at HUD, and had me into lunch in the Secretary's dining room, and so on and so forth. But I was frankly never president of his fan club, or even a charter member."

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  • The billionaire Berkshire Hathaway CEO opines on the supposed end of the recession: "I will tell you that to any -- on any common sense definition, the average American is below where he was before, or his family, in terms of real income, GDP. We're still in a recession. And -- and we're not gonna be out of it for awhile, but we will get out of it." On taxing the rich: "If anything, taxes for the lower and middle class and maybe even the upper middle class should even probably be cut further. But I think that people at the high end -- people like myself -- should be paying a lot more in taxes. We have it better than we've ever had it," the legendary investor told Christiane Amanpour.

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  • The Citigroup CEO believes it's important to do right by stakeholders: "This belief was shaped by my Eastern upbringing, the belief that if you don’t do right now you will pay in the next life, and the importance I attach to reputation and credibility."

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  • World's richest man Carlos Slim: “Trillions of dollars have been given to charity in the last 50 years, and they don’t solve anything.”

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    Munger: “I believe Costco does more for civilization than the Rockefeller Foundation,” Munger, 86, told students in a discussion at the University of Michigan on Sept. 14, according to a video posted on the Internet. “I think it’s a better place. You get a bunch of very intelligent people sitting around trying to do good, I immediately get kind of suspicious and squirm in my seat.”

     

  • The JPMorgan Chase CEO dispeled rumors that he and the president were on the rocks in a Fortune interview: "We [he and Barack Obama] were neither in love nor have we fallen out. I still talk to the folks in the administration. I don't agree with everything they have done. I don't disagree with everything they've done. He may have close relations, but I am not one of them."

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  • "For many of us, owning a home signaled a passage into adulthood that coincided with the start of a career and family. High levels of homeownership have been shown to foster greater involvement in school and civic organizations, higher graduation rates, and greater neighborhood stability. Recognizing these benefits, our society has taken steps to encourage homeownership. Tax incentives, mortgage insurance from the Federal Housing Administration, and other government policies all contributed to a long rise in the U.S. homeownership rate — from 45 percent in 1940 to a peak of 69 percent in 2004. But, as recent events have demonstrated, homeownership is only good for families and communities if it can be sustained."  -- Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, at a Fed and FDIC sponsored conference about the foreclosure crisis.

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  • “To date we have not seen a single instance where a human being made a conscious decision to favor dollars over safety,” said head BP oil spill investigator Fred Bartlit of the Deepwater Horizon disaster that killed 11 people and streamed oil into the Gulf of Mexico. "They want to be efficient, they don’t want to waste money, but they also don’t want to get their buddies killed."

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  • The BP CEO explaining his company's modus operandi regarding the oil spill: "We tried to be open and transparent, we gave access to the operation, but the reality is we were completely overrun and just not prepared to deal with the intensity of the media scrutiny. ... What was going on was some extraordinary engineering. But when it was played out in the full glare of the media as it was, of course it looked like fumbling and incompetence."

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  • An unrepentant former Lehman Brothers CEO Dick Fuld blames the government for not bailing out his basket case of a firm: "I submit, that had Lehman been granted that same access as its competitors, even as late as that Sunday evening, Lehman would have had time for at least an orderly wind down or for an acquisition which would have alleviated the crisis that ensued."

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  • "It's a war," the Blackstone Group chief said of President Obama's proposal to raise taxes on private equity. "It's like when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939." Schwarzman subsequently retracted the Hitler bit, with the caveat that he still thought Obama should be working more closely with American business.

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