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Grumpy Home Depot Men Long for Days of Yore

Home Depot wouldn't exist if it had to be started in today's economic and regulatory climate, two founders of the national home-improvement chain told CNBC Tuesday.

"If we started Home Depot today … there is no way we could do it," Bernie Marcus, who described himself now as an "old, retired, beaten-up retailer", told "Squawk Box."

The company was undercapitalized when it opened its first stores and went public with sales of just $25 million to secure more financing, something that could not occur in today's market, Marcus said.

In addition, the company used stock options to attract employees from across the country.

Today the company would have to expense options and "it would have wiped out our earnings," co-founder Ken Langone said.

The company would also face accountancy expenses of as much as $2 million instead of $40,000 to comply with options regulations, Marcus said, in the wide-ranging interview.

Marcus pulled no punches in expressing his disappointment at the reign of former Home Depot CEO Bob Nardelli and admiration for current chief executive Frank Blake.

During the last half of Nardelli's regime, "I just stayed out of the stores," Marcus said. "The morale was so low in all the stores, nobody felt like it was their stores anymore."

"I hired him based on a resume," he added. "That ought to teach us a lesson: don't hire people based on a resume."

And with Eliot Spitzer out of the New York governor's mansion and former New York Stock Exchange CEO Dick Grasso winning an appeal to keep his pay package, Langone said he's suddenly suffering from "post-partum depression."

"I'm out of fights," he said.

But Langone did officially deny that he hired a private investigator to look into the private life of Spitzer.

Langone, a former director of the New York Stock Exchange, found himself a target of Spitzer over Grasso's pay package.