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The 10 Greediest People of the Year

They came, they saw, they took it all. Welcome to the world where thieves have no honor, and those who hone their talents hammering the rest of us are lavishly rewarded.

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Cote’s agenda? Making sure the budget-cutters in Washington keep hands off defense contracts. As one alternative, press reports indicate, he’s pushing a freeze on the pay that goes to America’s servicemen and women.

5/ David Tepper: This hedge needs clipping

Nobody made more money last year than America’s top hedge fund managers, and no hedge fund manager made more than David Tepper. This 53-year-old former junk bond trader at Goldman Sachs hit a $4 billion jackpot essentially betting, in the middle of the global financial meltdown, that Uncle Sam wouldn't let Wall Street's biggest banks go under.

Tepper is currently doing his best to single-handedly reboot America’s still depressed residential real estate market. In June, he spent $43.5 million to pick up a summer home in the Hamptons that used to belong to former New Jersey governor and Goldman Sachs CEO Jon Corzine. The 6.5-acre beachfront spread sports six bedrooms, a tennis court, and a heated pool -- and rented last summer for $900,000.

The $43.5 million Tepper shelled out ended up the highest price paid this year for a Hamptons home. The total also amounted to about half the record $88 million the hedge fund industry raised for the homeless this past May at the 2010 Robin Hood Foundation dinner, Wall Street's single biggest annual charity gala.

One official at the foundation dubbed that $88 million an act of “extraordinary generosity.” Others might define “extraordinary” a bit differently. David Tepper and the rest of the hedge fund industry’s top 25 last year together pocketed $25.3 billion. They averaged, each and every business day, over $100 million.

4/ Lloyd Blankfein: Getting the most from our tax dollars

Lloyd Blankfein, the chief exec at Wall Street’s biggest bank, has had a stunning century. Since 2000, Bloomberg News calculates, Blankfein has earned a whopping $125 million in cash bonuses and enough additional stock awards to leave him with a personal stash of Goldman shares worth over $300 million.

And the goodies keep coming. This January, Blankfein will pick up another $24.3 million in stock, as a delayed payout from previous years. He’ll also pick up millions more in soon-to-be-announced bonuses for 2010.

News of these bonuses, Wall Street analyst Jeanne Branthover predicts, will leave the public “outraged” and Wall Streeters “excited” -- that “there’s still a reason to be working so hard.”

How hard is Lloyd Blankfein working? He simply never misses an opportunity, however small, to make a buck off taxpayers. This year’s prime example: the fees that Goldman Sachs has fixed on Build America Bonds, the federal program that's helping states and localities raise money for construction job projects.

Local governments, in tough times, often have to cut back on such projects because they can't afford to pay the interest on new bond offerings. With Build America Bonds, the federal government is paying 35 percent of this interest.

Investment banks charge municipalities fees to bring their bonds to investors. Goldman’s fees typically range up to 0.625 percent of each bond issue. But Goldman has been charging, on Build America Bonds, up to 0.875 percent. Why so much? Goldman, Blankfein told Congress, had to “educate the market.”

3/ Mark Hurd: Unfurling a platinum parachute

The truly greedy don’t just grab -- at the expense of those they overpower. And the truly greedy don’t just feel entitled to grab all they can get. The truly greedy feel invincible while they’re grabbing away, just like former Hewlett-Packard CEO Mark Hurd.

Hurd gained the HP reins in 2005. He proceeded to pocket $134.2 million, through 2009, mainly be wheeling and dealing his way through dozens of mergers that killed nearly 40,000 jobs.

 
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