Captains of the Economy: The 10 Who Shaped the U.S. Economy the Most Since 2000

But Lewis' last big purchases cast a shadow over his successful tenure: Last year, Bank of America acquired mortgage lender Countrywide, one of the most visible culprits of the housing bubble, and the faltering investment bank Merrill Lynch, which awarded multimillion-dollar bonuses to its executives at it was merging with BofA. In April, shareholders angry with Lewis' decisions, voted to strip him of his chairmanship. Both he and Bank of America, which has received $45 billion in federal bailouts, are now under investigation by federal and state officials over the Merrill merger.

Still, published reports say that the challenges Bank of America has faced in finding a new chief executive may lead Lewis to postpone his departure date.

Warren Buffett

When Warren Buffett talks, the business world listens. Known as the "Oracle of Omaha" for his long history of prescient stock picks, Buffett is one of the world's richest men, with a net worth of $37 billion, according to Forbes. He regularly makes headlines both for his comments on the economy -- which have been largely optimistic and bullish -- and his surprising investments.

At the height of the financial crisis last September, Buffett announced that his Berkshire Hathaway company would invest $5 billion in Goldman Sachs. At the time, it was a surprising vote of confidence in a major investment bank, given that three other titans had either been taken over (Bear Stearns and Merrill Lynch) or gone bankrupt (Lehman Brothers) that year. As Goldman shares have rebounded, Buffet has seen his bet pay off in billions.

More recently, Berkshire Hathaway purchased the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad. Buffett called the investment an "all-in wager on the economic future of the United States" because "America must grow and prosper for railroads to do well."

Buffett may be as good at giving away money as he is at making it. In 2006, he announced he would gradually donate 85 percent of his Berkshire Hathaway stocks to charity.

Rich Blake contributed to this report.

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