Santelli on AIG bonus rage: "You know, $165 million is like worrying about 16.5 cents, while $165 maybe necessitates a little more outrage"


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From the March 17 edition of CNBC's Squawk Box:

SANTELLI: Hey, Joe -- Joe, Carl.

CARL QUINTANILLA (co-anchor): Yes.

SANTELLI: What do you guys think about the AIG story? What do you think the big issue there is that it's getting all the press?

QUINTANILLA: Well, I think, you know, there is a -- I don't know if you've noticed -- some populist outrage, Rick, about -- about -- the bonuses. And you've got some -- some politicians now --

SANTELLI: But what about the political outrage? There's some political outrage, too, right?

QUINTANILLA: In what sense?

SANTELLI: Well, I mean, it seems as though the administration really hit this one head on. They're not happy about it, right?

QUINTANILLA: The president has registered his anger. We've been --

SANTELLI: Big time, right? Wouldn't you say big time?

QUINTANILLA: The Fed chairman says he --

SANTELLI: Wouldn't you say pretty big time?

QUINTANILLA: -- has slammed down the phone a couple of times.

SANTELLI: Now, think about it this way. Maybe I'm missing something. But the outrage seems to be about Ms -- millions of dollars, right? $165 million, OK?

But I would think that it should be looked at as a pretty big positive, because when you go from the M, maybe you should try to go to the Bs, which is the billions of dollars, and maybe that's going to even enlighten for the T -- trillions of dollars. You know, 165 million is like worrying about 16 and a half cents, while 165 maybe necessitates a little more outrage.

BECKY QUICK (co-host): Hey, Rick, I think --

SANTELLI: What do you guys think?

QUICK: -- I think the real idea here is just the idea of rewarding bad behavior, which is something you've spoken out against in the past. The idea that anybody should --

SANTELLI: No, I guess what I'm saying it's an order of magnitude. Don't you think that this dynamic that the average guy reading his newspaper is really starting to be in tune with -- with this?

And I think bonuses really strike a chord as to the dynamic you're talking about. But there's many degrees of intensity if one really wants to shine the light on the money that's being scrutinized. You know, there's M, there's Bs, and there's Ts. I just want to know what people think.

QUICK: But there are -- there are some cases that just stand out as such an abhorrent --

SANTELLI: Well, they're the catalyst. But I guess I still think -- and a lot of people I talk to think -- 16 and a half cents may be important. But 165 and a half dollars is pretty darn important, too.

QUINTANILLA: I don't think anyone's arguing that it's not important. I don't think the argument that we're --

SANTELLI: Well I guess, why isn't the --

QUINTANILLA: -- somehow not upset about the billions -- I don't think that's true.

Posted In
Rick Santelli
Squawk Box
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