CHRISTOPHER DODD, U.S. Senator, Connecticut
LAST YEAR'S CHALLENGE: As chairman of the powerful Senate Banking, Housing & Urban Affairs Committee and the longest serving Senator in Connecticut's history, Dodd is at the nexus of any financial system overhaul.
HOW HE'S DOING: Dodd went from being a potential running mate for Barack Obama to being viewed as an enabler of Wall Street's greed, following rumors of his special mortgage rate from Countrywide and his association with the AIG bailout and bonus debacle.
DAVID EINHORN, portfolio manager of Greenlight Capital
LAST YEAR'S CHALLENGE: After exhaustive research, he predicted the Lehman and Bear Stearns debacle — and shorted Lehman in May 2008, enjoying a nice profit on the trade.
HOW HE'S DOING: Last year wasn't a banner year, with his fund losing nearly 23 percent, but through the first half of this year, his fund is up 21.5 percent. He expects a lousy year for stocks and has almost no net long exposure to equities, according to published reports.
MARC FABER, fund manager and broker/dealer, Marc Faber Ltd., publisher of The Gloom, Boom & Doom Report
LAST YEAR'S CHALLENGE: He correctly called the present stock market and real estate decline.
HOW HE'S DOING: Faber is sticking to his bearish knitting. “The S&P 500 will not recover to 2007 highs,” Faber recently told an investing forum. As for the importance of the financial sector: “That is gone, [it's] not coming back.” He has also said the U.S. government will go bust. Expects Zimbabwe-like hyperinlfation.
TIMOTHY GEITHNER, secretary of the United States Treasury
LAST YEAR'S CHALLENGE: As President of the New York Federal Reserve, Geithner decided to whom, how much and in what fashion financial institutions received loans as the industry imploded.
HOW HE'S DOING: Love him or hate him, Geithner is again in charge of handing out mountains of cash as Treasury Secretary. While most agree a stimulus is needed to get the economy's engine going again, critics worry Geithner's programs have grown too big and lack transparency.
ELLYN MCCOLGAN, former president, COO, Global Wealth Management, Morgan Stanley
LAST YEAR'S CHALLENGE: Fill the shoes of James Gorman, who became co-president of Morgan Stanley after two years of vastly improving the resources and profitability of its advisor force.
HOW SHE'S DOING: After 8 months on the job, McColgan left in January, giving her barely enough time to unpack, let alone make Gorman-like improvements.
VIKRAM PANDIT, CEO, Citigroup
LAST YEAR'S CHALLENGE: To ward off calls for his head and to turn around one of the country's biggest banks.
HOW HE'S DOING: Pandit still has his job, despite a recent reshuffling in the executive suite. But Citi will soon have the U.S. government as its biggest shareholder. Citigroup reported second-quarter profits of $4.3 billion, booked mostly on the sale Smith Barney to Morgan Stanley. The bank may still need to sell off other assets.
JIM ROGERS, chairman, Rogers Holdings
LAST YEAR'S CHALLENGE: Continue his success at investing in commodities and Asia.
HOW HE'S DOING: Commodities crashed 8 months later than equities but have bounced off March lows. Rogers hasn't stopped screaming “Buy!” For once in his life, he's not shorting anything. He's been a regular guest on T.V., calling for the abolishment of the Fed and explaining why China will rule the world this century.
ROBERT SHILLER, professor of economics at Yale; Chief economist/co-founder, Macromarkets; co-founder Case Shiller Weiss.
LAST YEAR'S CHALLENGE: Shiller, who called the 2000 tech bubble and compared the housing boom to a stock bubble, forecasted that home prices would decline 25 percent from their peak in 2006.
HOW HE'S DOING: Unfortunately, Shiller was right again. Housing prices, according to his S&P/Case Shiller 20-city composite index, have fallen a whopping 33 percent from the peak. Shiller has said he expects prices to level off but stay at current levels for many years.
BARRY SOMMERS, CEO, Bear Stearns Private Client Services, a JPMorgan Company
LAST YEAR'S CHALLENGE: When JPMorgan Chase acquired a battered Bear Stearns Private Client Services, Sommers was with charged with keeping advisors happy and in their seats.
HOW HE'S DOING: Since the second quarter of 2008, revenue at the unit is up 190 percent to $110 million and the number of advisors is up 11 percent to 362.
JOHN THAIN, former chairman and CEO, Merrill Lynch
LAST YEAR'S CHALLENGE: Fix the mess he inherited from Stan O'Neal.
HOW HE'S DOING: In September 2008 as losses soared, Thain orchestrated the sale of Merrill Lynch to Bank of America for $50 billion to avoid bankruptcy. Thain was equally praised and panned for the move. Thain left the combined entity in January under a cloud over excessive spending on his office and a request for a $10 million bonus.