The 10 Biggest Wall Street Stars of the Year

The star witness in the SEC's investigation of Goldman Sachs' Abacus CDO deal is so funny, French and ridiculous that the SEC can't resist piling on the charges. So far this year he's arguably cost his firm $550 million, plus $28 million, plus $650,000, and yet he remains an employee on paid leave. Only a trader with near-miraculous star power could hang on to his job after costing Goldman such serious coin.

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Bank of America's CEO has vowed to fight bond investors who want their money back on mortgage-backed securities that may have been faultily assembled. He may have to; his firm is said to lead the industry in mortgage-putback exposure. BofA has also held its own in ridiculous foreclosure horror stories. Credit Moynihan for braving a storm born in large part of his predecessors' purchases of financial-crisis casualties Merrill Lynch and Countrywide Financial. Amid all the craziness, Moynihan keeps CEO-ing. He's currently working to divest from his company's noncore businesses in an effort to bring focus to the country's largest bank by assets.

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Rattner has settled his pension kickback beef with the Securities and Exchange Commission by agreeing to spend three years away from the securities industry and pay a $6.2 million fine. His book Overhaul has been well received. Now all the former car czar has to do is fend off two new lawsuits from Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.

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Ackman has been wheeling and dealing in New York real estate and taking big activist stakes in J.C. Penney and Fortune Brands. Never one to shy away from the spotlight, he insists that his fund benefits from increased media attention to the flaws in the companies he invests in.

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The former Countrywide CEO's settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission this year didn't hurt him too badly. The widely vilified exec has yet to admit any wrongdoing, despite having sold off shares of his company as it plunged toward bankruptcy. Thanks to Countrywide's 2008 merger with Bank of America, other people get to clean up Mozilo's mess.

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NY Fed chairman William Dudley has been setting the pace for the Federal Reserve's monetary policy decisions since the fall of this year. His Oct. 1 speech at CUNY school of journalism signaled to the markets that the Fed would embark on another round of the controversial monetary-stimulus initiative known as quantitative easing. The question is whether he can -- or whether he wants to -- rise to the prominence and notoriety of his predecessor, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.

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The Goldman Sachs CEO owned the second quarter of 2010, setting a world record for corporate settlements with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Throughout the year, his bank has basically shrugged off one of the worst public relations crises it's ever suffered through and, with singular determination, kept on doing what it has always done -- making money.

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The SEC's chief enforcement officer, Khuzami has this year presided over some of the biggest settlements in American history. The Countrywide exec settlement and the Goldman Sachs settlement both set records for the size of the penalties assessed. The SEC hasn't totally shaken off the perception that it's an ineffectual regulator that failed to catch Bernie Madoff, but these prosecutions have been a small step in the right direction for the agency. The momentum could continue if the SEC can make hay of a recent insider-trading dragnet that's tripped up a few hedge- and mutual funds.

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Elizabeth Warren isn't running, but could be part of a Democratic bench.

The pseudo-head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has her work cut out for her. She reports to Tim Geithner, a man she castigated loudly and publicly when she chaired the Congressional Oversight Panel. The midterms have ushered in a class of new lawmakers who are skeptical about regulation and government expenditures -- and her $400 million budget. The outspoken would-be regulator doesn't mind giving bankers headaches in the name of protecting the little guy. She may soon get a chance to prove that a hard-nosed approach -- something the government seldom tries -- is effective.

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Everybody's Favorite Banker (TM) is steering JPMorgan Chase through foreclosure and mortgage securitization troubles born of the bank's acquisitions of Washington Mutual and Bear Stearns. Even when the press tries to get tough on Dimon, he still comes off looking like a champ.

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