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October 29th, 2008
11:41 AM ET

Ten Most Wanted: Culprits of the Collapse

See who made our list for the ''Ten Most Wanted: Culprits of the Collapse''
See who made our list for the ''Ten Most Wanted: Culprits of the Collapse''

Anderson Cooper

Over the last couple of weeks we’ve heard politicians tell us that now is not the time to point fingers and blame people for the financial crisis. I remember them saying that in the days after Hurricane Katrina as well.

The truth is that’s what politicians always say. They mean that now is the time to fix the problem, but once the world’s attention moves on, the time for hold people accountable never seems to arrive. Politicians point fingers at members of the opposite party, but no one ever seems to take real responsibility.

So who is to blame for this financial fiasco?

That’s the question we’ve begun investigating. We’ve put together a list of the Ten Most Wanted: Culprits of the Collapse. This week and next week, every night, we will be adding a name to the list and telling you what they have done, and how much it’s costing you.

It’s a rogues gallery of Wall Street executives, politicians, and government officials who did not do their jobs. It’s time you know their names, their faces, it’s time they be asked to account for their actions.

See who made the list...


Filed under: 360° Radar • Anderson Cooper • Culprits of the Collapse • TV
soundoff (330 Responses)
  1. Annie M

    Why must these CEOs make so much personal income?
    Why do we pay professional athletes and actors such exhorbitant salaries? Why do we pay teachers so little?
    Just how much money does one really need in order to live a satisfying and fulfilling life? Do we really need multiple homes and cars and ostentatious jewelry? People are starving and not receiving proper education. Our future will be in great peril with a generation of misguided and uneducated people leading it.
    We are a nation of greed and selective morals and have lost sight of what is truly important. Our children have so few role models.
    We need change and we need it now. It is up to the citizens to demand this and see it through. We cannot count on our government or leaders to do the right thing if there is no transparency or consequences for these scandals.
    Greed is NOT good.
    Go get 'em, Anderson, and keep on keeping us informed. Thanks.

    October 9, 2008 at 5:09 pm |
  2. S. M. Periyasamy

    CNN. In general, you are doing a superb job. Anderson Cooper, not only me but most Americans are anxious to know the 10 most wanted culprits who looted the life savings of the working men and women of this great nation. They should be prosecuted and their illegal wealth should be confiscated. Most importantly, a legislation should be introduced to cap their salary and bonus in order to prevent reoccurence of this kind of episode.

    October 9, 2008 at 5:08 pm |
  3. Penny

    They should all be jailed for life.

    October 9, 2008 at 5:07 pm |
  4. Jim Walker

    Kudos to Anderson Cooper for going after the criminals responsible for this historic economic debacle. Their greed and arrogance have brought misery and poverty to millions of people, and not just in the United States. Every last one of them need to be brought to trial: the worst of them should be tried for treason against the people of the U.S.A.

    October 9, 2008 at 5:03 pm |
  5. Bharat Mulchandani

    Mirror, Mirror on the wall – Who is to blame for it all? We, the people, stupid! The same three words that start our Constitution. NOTHING will be accomplished until to go back to the basics that made this country great. Work hard, be good and not be afraid to take on new challenges. Instead we have become a society that lives beyond our means. It is easy to blame the banks, realtors, mortgage brokers, etc. The REAL culprit is the consumer. That is consuming what has not been earned. The imbalance started at the top and it has trickled its way down. Why hasn't anyone in authority addressed the REAL issue head on. We have lived on borrowed money for decades. We need to accept our mistakes, make real changes, and not be afraid of the future.

    October 9, 2008 at 5:00 pm |
  6. DC

    That's ridiculous to compare athletes to CEO's managing finanial companies that the general population invest in. I’m not in agreement with the salaries athletes make, however, it doesn’t matter to me because I don’t ask an athlete for advise nor do I invest in their teams. The CEO represent and manage financial companies, and are required to be provide accurate information and investment opportunities to the everyday citizen… any they haven’t been honest with either.

    October 9, 2008 at 4:57 pm |
  7. Kyle Copeland

    AIG=American Institute of Greed- they are giving out scholarships.

    October 9, 2008 at 4:46 pm |
  8. gg

    Why we are giving money again to AIG? It seems they are fine enjoying with the initial bailout money. Why all the senior executives of AIG cannot be fired?

    October 9, 2008 at 4:46 pm |
  9. Doug McVicker

    The U.S. Government is the blame for this fiasco. Yes, greed by CEO's is the part of the problem but the government allowed this to happen while padding their own pockets. Senator Chris Dodd and Rep Barney Frank have alot to answer for. The prosperity of the 90's is now coming to the forefront as a complete facade. Bill Clinton may see his legacy go out the door.

    October 9, 2008 at 4:42 pm |
  10. Rock

    Cash cows........the American public.........are cash cows and the politicians and big company's know it.

    Keep us informed as best you can Anderson..........:)_

    October 9, 2008 at 4:42 pm |
  11. Crystal

    Anderson,

    Now this is why I watch your show! I am so glad you are doing this list. We have been hearing so many talking points on both sides of the aisle - republican and democrat. So many things are being discussed that just don't matter in our lives. I am so glad someone will give us the information we really want.

    Everyone should go on the senate and house websites to get their representatives information. We need to be calling our representatives to make sure these people are held accountable. If enough Americans are calling for accountability, we will get it. We just can't stay silent anymore.

    October 9, 2008 at 4:42 pm |
  12. Patti

    Great job Anderson! I applaud you and CNN for giving the public this information.

    October 9, 2008 at 4:34 pm |
  13. M S

    Terrific!! Hold nothing back – be completely objective and impartial. There is plenty of blame to go around – gov't policies, industries, individuals and the public. Lay it all out there for all of us to see. As you can see by the responses to date, we finally have a public willing to display its rage about an issue. We're all made as hell and we're not going to take it any more!! Let common sense prevail!!

    October 9, 2008 at 4:30 pm |
  14. Jean

    Does extreme capitalism have a name? Greed is greed, even if it does wear lipstick and live in the Hamptons.

    October 9, 2008 at 4:28 pm |
  15. Dave B.

    If the American people are not at the top of your list, your efforts will have been in vain. Blaming a few CEO's (AIG, Lehman, etc.) and politicians (Clinton, Bush, etc.), wil be ludicrous. Americans living beyond their means is the problem. Period.

    October 9, 2008 at 4:23 pm |
  16. Gil

    With the Dow below 9000, it doesn't seem like the bailout is working. 700 Billion down the toilet. That's enough to give every person in the US about 2300 dollars!

    I think that would have been a better option. With a family of 5, I would get a little over 10K, spend about a thousand or so, which would help the economy, and the rest would go in the bank. If everyone else did something similar, the banks would have money to loan out again, hopefully in a more responsible manner.

    October 9, 2008 at 4:23 pm |
  17. Ed (New Orleans)

    The most horrible part of this entire story of these individuals is that they will simply go on to the next multi-million dollar job and deal and chances are pretty strong that some of them will be the money managers hired by the government to dole out the 700 billion dollar bailout fund.

    October 9, 2008 at 4:23 pm |
  18. Thomas Pain

    I nominate George Bush as culprit number one. When he was inaugurated, the government was running record surpluses, paying down debt, and following text-book perfect fiscal policies. The Bush administration pushed reckless tax cuts and a voluntary war in Iraq that swung the fiscal balance towards record deficits, and added nearly $5 trillion to the gross Federal debt.

    Giving tax cuts to rich people has a predictable consequence–it creates asset bubbles. The Bush tax cuts were a main cause of the housing bubble, and the housing bubble was the main cause of the mess we're in right now. Thanks, George.

    October 9, 2008 at 4:22 pm |
  19. Dee from CT

    Mr. Cooper, you stated it perfectly: "... once the world’s attention moves on, the time for hold people accountable never seems to arrive..." Sadly, we've become more and more adapted to this lack of memory, it's good to see that a change is afoot; this is not something that should be swept under the proverbial rug, the top 10 should be made to answer for their decisions, where is their remorse, admission of guilt or any attempt to make any of this slightly better to swallow. I know if I make a drastic error in my job, I'm held responsible, including potentially being let go. What’s more, since I am no where close to the top of the totem pole, I do not get a nifty severance package when it happens either...

    October 9, 2008 at 4:22 pm |
  20. Jay

    WOW – when did it become a crime in this country to succeed? When did it become a crime in this country to post a profit to the company's balance sheets? Do you all think that every CEO and CFO in this global economy world is nothing but a bunch of thiefs and crooks? There are plenty of them who run large businesses and employ hundreds of thousands of our fellow Americans ethically. Perhaps it's a case of the "one bad apple spoils the barrel mentality." Oh and one other thought...where's the outrage with the multimillion dollar salaries our sports heros and celebs pull in every year? Lastly, aren't we all entitled to a fair trial by law in this country? I'd like to see the results of the FBI probe completed before we pass judgement. This sounds like an electronic lynching.

    October 9, 2008 at 4:21 pm |
  21. Diane Michelle

    My husband and I have spent a lifetime working hard and contributing slowly to our 401(k)s. We finally had created a nest egg that we were looking forward to in the next five years for our retirement.

    In the past weeks, we have lost over 30% of our 401(k)s and it will probably go much higher. It seems as though we might lose it all. Where is our President when we truly need him in this crisis? I suggest he suspends stock trading indefinitely until this financial crisis can be managed. Who will be there for all of us that have lost nearly everything we have worked for over the years. The concept of the 401(k) savings plan has unraveled to the point of no return.

    Where are our leaders of the world when we need them?

    October 9, 2008 at 4:20 pm |
  22. JD

    It is great to see a news program attempt to hold someone acountable, especially in light of the wonderful example of how the causes of the Katrina failed response were pushed aside by politicians trying to protect their own reputations.

    However, I think we as Americans must stake some responsibility for this recent crises, in a few ways. We voted for these bums on both sides of the fence. Please excuse my generalizations, but we tend to prefer shallow sensalized news over substantive reporting that may be more dry, but ultimately is much more relavent to our lives than Paris Hilton's latest fashion choice. And we all tend to be stock holders now with 401K and other retirement accounts.

    I say this last item of universal ownership in stocks, because no one seems to be reqarding companies that actually act with a conscious by buying thier stock, or joining forces with other shareholders to demand CEO pay be more on par with their labor forces. And I must point out that to reverse these trends either by federal act or other means will have two effects. First every special interest who can influence their respective politician will decry such controls as socialist and try to spin this as un-American. The other real effect will be for at least the near term to stunt capitalism in a very real sense.

    For example, if we were to say ...all publicly traded companies based in the U.S. had to pay their CEO/Executives no more than 10X wha the lowest paid employee makes, or the company will be fined with those monies going towards the bailout or unemployment insurance then you will see a flood of talent leave those companies. Further, unless we are creative and have other nations of the world join us in this committment will see detractors raise the issue that companies will leave for foreign shores where regulation is lax, like Bermuda, the Caymans or somewhere else.

    Overall, I think we really need to come to terms with the idea of what a corporation means. An entity with all the rights of a human being that can live in perpetuity,yet without a conscious or concern for society and the overall marketplace it inhabits. If we don't examine this fundamental concept we will continue to repeat history as greed with or without malice concentrates around power and breeds corruption anew.

    October 9, 2008 at 4:20 pm |
  23. MEJ

    We should all look in the mirror! The only difference between these guys and those of us who have too much credit card debt or a mortgage that we can't afford is the scale of the mismanagement. If these guys have committed a crime they should be prosecuted, but don't blame them for the poor decisions that individual Americans have made that have put their own families in financial jeopardy. When we lose the values of personal responsibilty and accountability in this nation, we all lose...period!

    October 9, 2008 at 4:20 pm |
  24. allison

    Interesting concept. However, it sounds like a witch hunt. I want to know who they are as much as anyone else, but it is a slipery slope. Be careful. The media has MUCH to do with initiating the panic that has driven the economy to its knees.

    October 9, 2008 at 4:17 pm |
  25. Mark

    Anderson,

    Don't play into the hysteria and class warfare. The culprits are all of us who bought houses we could not afford, did cash-out refi's to buy cars and flatscreens, etc. Had there been no demand from irresponsible consumers, there would have been no subprime lending. As long as there is a demand, someone will fill it, and our demand to live beyond our means, doomed our economy.

    October 9, 2008 at 4:13 pm |
  26. MJ

    Excellent. Exposing these greedy, corrupt, cowards is the first step. The next step is the FBI doing something about it. Prison, fines, etc... I think the American people want blood at this point.

    Oh, and what happened to this be-all end-all bailouit? That really helped. It helped congress and wall street line there pockets. I'm sure if the bailout didn't pass, then politicians would be crying up a storm now that the market tanked. But since the bailout passed, and the stock marked is still tanking, you don't hear a peep from congress about it. But if the market was rebounding, then congress would be in front of every TV camera taking the credit. Pure slime.

    An honest, hard working individual cannot get ahead in this country anymore. All these social programs and bailouts define socialism at its best. Say good-bye to capitolism and the American dream. Ever notice how all this mess started when the democrats took over congress two years ago? Now we are headed towards a democrat in the White House. God help America.

    October 9, 2008 at 4:13 pm |
  27. Crystal Mahoney

    this is why i love anderson cooper

    October 9, 2008 at 4:06 pm |
  28. Lisa Liou

    Yes!! finally we can see those crooks' faces. But question is, after this priceless report, what kind of crime (I mean real sentences) they will serve? Is there any law that DA/FBI/or even the Home Land Security can use to effectively prosecute them? People are frustrated and we do not want another Katrina show!!

    October 9, 2008 at 4:06 pm |
  29. new citizen

    Why stop at 10?

    the US Congress has 535 members, each benefitted in one way or another. Each had a vote that brought us here through deregulations.

    October 9, 2008 at 4:06 pm |
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