Bank CEOs: I Said WHAT ?

Via Portfolio, comes this list of great CEOs quotes:

1. John Thain, Merrill Lynch

"We’re very confident that we have the capital base now that we need to go forward in 2008."
January 18, 2008.

"…Today I can say that we will not need additional funds. These problems are behind us. We will not return to the market."
March 8, 2008

"We have more capital than we need, so we can say to the market that we don’t need more injections. We can confirm that we have tackled the problem."
March 16, 2008

2. Dick Fuld, Lehman Brothers

"Do we have some stuff on the books that would be tough to get rid of? Yes. Am I worried about it? No. If you have some repricing of these things will we lose some money? Yes. Is it going to kill us? Of course not."
Summer 2007
–Richard Fuld, Lehman Brothers C.E.O. (Financial Times).

4. Ken Thompson, Wachovia

"The mortgage market is going to be a great market in this country for a long time. We’ve got population growth. We’ve got people who are always going to want to live in homes that they own. It’s going to be a great market."
–on CNBC May 15, 2006.

5. Martin Sullivan, AIG

"But because this business is carefully underwritten and structured with very high attachment points to the multiples of expected losses, we believe the probability that it will sustain an economic loss is close to zero."
— speaking to investors on December 5, 2007

6. John Mack, Morgan Stanley
"Well, number one, I think this firm has the capacity to take a lot more risk than it has in the past. So from that aspect, we’re really using our talent in a more productive way than we have had in the past. I am comfortable with the risk…I think we probably have one of the best overall risk managers in Tom Daula, who oversees all firm risk, and also Zoe growing up on the sales and trading side, mainly trading side risk management, it’s a very strong combination. So I’m comfortable with it. Do we take a lot of risk? Yes."
–April 2007 shareholder meeting.

7. Ken Lewis, Bank of America
"We believe that in the current turmoil the stock market has been underestimating the value in Countrywide’s operations and assets. This investment reflects our confidence in their business and recognizes the importance of the company in providing home financing across the country. We hope this investment will be a step toward a return to more normal liquidity in the mortgage markets."
–August 22, 2007 press release

The entire list — and a lot more quotes — are at

Hat tip: Doug Kass


"I Said What?!"
Megan Barnett
Portfolio, Jul 30 2008

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

What's been said:

Discussions found on the web:
  1. DL commented on Jul 30

    These guys have been taking lessons from the National Association of Realtors.

  2. KnotRP commented on Jul 30

    One is pretty close to zero.

  3. johnnyvee commented on Jul 30

    I think the joke goes like this:

    How do you know when a CEO is lying? Their lips are moving.

  4. stuart commented on Jul 30

    Yet they still get so much respect in the MSM… Guess there are quite a few short bus riders that made being MSM producer or headline writer a career choice.

  5. Jeff commented on Jul 30

    Like I said in an earlier post, why would anyone (I mean ANYONE) trust anything that these people say anymore? Either they’re lying or they have no idea what’s going on in their own companies. Which is worse? I’m not even sure. Part of me hopes they’re lying. At least that would make feel a little better about their own competence.

  6. bonghiteric commented on Jul 30

    If I was Fastow, I’d be pissed.

  7. Jeff commented on Jul 30

    bonghiteric: LOL! What about Skilling? Shouldn’t he be even MORE pissed than Fastow? After all, isn’t Skilling going 20+ years in the hinterland of Minny? Those winters must pretty damn long in prison. I live here and am NOT in prison and they’re long for me.

    In comparison, Lay got off easy.

  8. Lala commented on Jul 30

    And the SEC is investigating “rumor mongering”? The should be investigating CEOs (start with Thain)”who knowingly misrespresenting material facts” on a weekly basis!

  9. DC commented on Jul 30

    Once again proof that the whole CEO universe is astoundingly overpaid. The argument is that these are the cream of the crop, the best minds in business, irreplaceable, etc. They all made the same mistakes and missed every warning sign.

    Time to end the CEO cult of personality (thanks again to Jack Welch, whose greatest talent was timing). The compensation for these clowns is pornographic regardless of results. Cut their pay and give the money to the shareholder and the line worker.

  10. winslow commented on Jul 30

    How did these characters ever attain their positions? Maybe they were just a little smarter than the other idiots. How could these individuals have amassed such a huge net worth while being incompetent?
    Now do you believe that our system needs to be drastically realigned.

  11. bonghiteric commented on Jul 30

    Skilling should be pissed too.

    Unfortunately Its pretty easy for me (I consider myself joe-six) to understand power price manipulation. Its not so easy to digest and interpret the much more destructive implications of the pricings of various vintages and tranches, the effects of FAS rulings, financial modeling failure, etc.

    Naturally, short-selling is the low-hanging fruit for the govt. and MSM. Its easy to say, rolls off the tongue.

    Christ it took at least ten postings here by individuals with (presumably)some sort of finance background just to parse the freakin’ M.L. article/press realease on ONE transaction. If you think the SEC is going to dive into that with each of the IB’s (especially after backstopping them) you’re kidding yourself.

    The way the market’s been closing the past week or so brings be back to the good ol’ days of last summer.

  12. kerry commented on Jul 30

    To troll again in the minds of some, a lot of the subprime securities could be mispriced, which would make their 07 statements less moronic.

    I guess what is scary is that (in my mind) subprime is likely mispriced and these CEOs have done anything possible to get it off their books. (And Buffett has bought some subprime.) Now they have other crap on their books that is depreciating in value- which they are hiding as far as I know, and they have used up way too much equity expunging the subprime. Part of me just thinks that these guys could not be as dumb as they seem; there must be a master plan…

  13. malabar commented on Jul 30

    Chris Cox is busy distracting the sheeple with his naked fetish while he aids and abets the looting of middle class Americans meager wealth.

  14. AGG commented on Jul 30

    The operative phrase is “I believe”. These people make a religon out of mendacity. As to how they got where they are, that is a story as old as civilization. Crooks stay awake at night thinking of ways to cheat their co-workers, friends and family. They aren’t lazy like many think; they are the cancer that all societies have. The only way to get this cancer into remission is gamma radiation. The way we’re clusterfucking our society, we may get gamma radiation either way. However, I think after November things will improve. As the mobsters say, “Dis is bad for Bidness”. Lots of retirements, some hot shot District Attorneys and lack of jobs will force some integrity into the system.

  15. Eric commented on Jul 30

    On the subject of embarrassing predictions about the brokerages, here are two pertinent quotes from one high-profile pundit: March 8, 2007: “The brokers are cheap because they are priced to lose business and do badly. You wipe out their subprime business, though, and I don’t know if you’ll notice it….These are not domestic companies at the mercy of the housing market. How that characterization got hung on them is beyond me, and ridiculous….Oh, and having sold some of the worst junk in the world when I was at Goldman (GS), I know that if you increase payout and increase yield, you’ll be able to get rid of whatever bad paper you have on the books in 15 minutes.” April 1, 2008: “Was there anyone out there who more loudly announced this credit crisis before it happened than I did?”

  16. catman commented on Jul 30

    It is amazing what supposedly shrewd business people on boards and compensation committees agree to pay these hard nosed straight talking pillars of the community. Beam me up El Supremo.

  17. Brel commented on Jul 30

    “Do we have some stuff on the books that would be tough to get rid of? Yes. Am I worried about it? No. If you have some repricing of these things will we lose some money? Yes. Is it going to kill us? Of course not.”
    Summer 2007
    –Richard Fuld, Lehman Brothers C.E.O.

    Compare with:

    “Are there still Taliban around? You bet. Are they occupying safe havens in Afghanistan and other places? Certainly they are. Is the violence up? Yes. Does the violence tend to be up during the spring, summer and fall months? Yes it does. Does that represent failed policy? I don’t know. I would say not.”
    –Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense

    I don’t know whether to laugh or to cry.

  18. Pete commented on Jul 31

    Everyday my jaw drops more when I read things like this . I am amazed how the thin ice we are on is and wonder what is next for us .

  19. Pete commented on Jul 31

    Everyday my jaw drops more when I read things like this . I am amazed how the thin ice we are on is and wonder what is next for us .

  20. dome commented on Jul 31

    Professor Galbraith was right again: “Preventive incantation required that as many important people as possible repeat as firmly as they could that it (recession) would not happen. This they did. …… As an instrument of economic policy, incantation does not permit minor doubts nor scruples.” The Great Crash

  21. winslow commented on Jul 31

    All of the CEO’s cited (plus hundred, maybe thousands, of others) have no stake in their decisions. They are NOT entrepreneurs and this is what capitalism is based. A movement needs to be started whereas if these individuals make poor decisions, they will lose their assets, including all options, all contracted retirement, and be fined according to how much the company they were leading had lost.

Posted Under