From the Mouths of Bankers: 'God's Work' to 'Get F**ked'

"We participated in things that were clearly wrong and have reason to regret … We apologize."
- Remarks at the National Association of Corporate Directors in New York City, where Blankfein was honored as CEO of the year on Nov. 17.

"I know I could slit my wrists and people would cheer."
- Blankfein asserted his awareness of the public's disgust with bankers in a Nov. 8, 2009 article by the Times of London. He went on to say that banks were part of a "virtuous cycle" by helping companies grow by helping them raise capital, thus allowing them to hire new workers.

He is a banker "doing God's work."
- Nov. 8, 2009 article in the Times of London. Critics speculated that Blankfein's Nov. 17 apology in New York was sparked by the furor following the "God's work" quote.

"To begin with an obvious point, much of the past year has been deeply humbling for my industry. We held ourselves up as the experts, and the loss of public confidence from failing to live up to the expectations that we created will take years to rebuild. Worse, decisions on compensation and other actions taken and not taken, particularly at banks that rapidly lost a lot of shareholder value, look self-serving and greedy in hindsight."
- Months before the widely-reported apology, Blankfein offered this partial mea culpa April 7, 2009, during remarks before a meeting of the Council of Institutional Investors in New York.

If the credit crisis were a football game, it was "probably in the third or fourth quarter."
- Blankfein made this assessment in April 2008, according to The Associated Press. Five months later, one major investment bank filed for bankruptcy, two others had been bought out and two more, including Blankfein's own Goldman Sachs, had applied to be bank holding companies to help ward off future trouble.

Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan Chase

Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase, is largely known for two things -- helping his bank avoid the worst of the financial crisis and being unapologetically blunt while doing it. Among some of his pull-no-punches comments:

"I am a little tired of the constant vilification of these people … This is not a casino." -- Defending bankers during remarks at Jan. 11 health care conference.

"[I]f some unforeseen circumstance should put this firm at risk of collapse, I believe we should be allowed to fail … The term 'too big to fail' must be excised from our vocabulary."
- Op-ed piece, Washington Post, Nov. 13, 2009

"Dear Timmy, we are happy to be able to pay back the $25 billion you lent us. We hope you enjoyed the experience as much as we did. Love, Jamie."
- From a fictional letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner that Dimon read aloud during a conference at New York University in early June. The dollar amount referred to the $25 billion that JPMorgan Chase received from the federal government through the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

"Folks, it's become a scarlet letter."
- JPMorgan Chase conference call on April 16, 2009. Dimon was referring to the TARP aid JPMorgan received. During the same call, Dimon referred to TARP as "the TARP baby."

"Buying a house and buying a house on fire are two different things."
- Interview with Charlie Rose in early June during which Dimon explained JPMorgan Chase's decision to bid to buy collapsing investment bank Bear Stearns for just $2 a share. The bank later acquired Bear, with the government's backing, for $10 a share.

Brian T. Moynihan, Bank of America

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