Last week I showed you a widely-distributed video of CNBC stunt-host Jim Cramer loudly gesticulating to his Mad Money fan base that Bear Stearns was “fine” and that “Bear Stearns is not in trouble”.
The day was March 11, Bear stock was trading at $62, and Bear immediately blew up.
Several members of the Cramer fan base promptly emailed me and said, no no no, Cramer explained that he was just saying that you shouldn’t move your money out of your Bear Stearns brokerage account. Which is a little odd, given that Bear was primarily a hedge fund prime broker and not a consumer broker, and Cramer’s show is aimed at regular folks, a.k.a. consumers. However, it is possible that his defenders could have a point.
Except they don’t.
On the very same day, March 11, Cramer also recorded a different video (not embeddable, so just follow that link) on TheStreet.com in which he explains in detail how Bear the company is “totally solvent; there’s not an issue; Bear is not in trouble, I want to make that point vociferously”.
I will give Cramer’s fans credit for one thing — he is highly entertaining. Although frankly I’m still not sure how he’s ever going to top confessing publicly to securities violations last year. One can but hope.
Why am I being mean to Cramer? Two reasons.
First, his whole approach is fundamentally fraudulent. You can’t sit at home, watch a TV show, actively trade stocks like Cramer says, and make money. At best you’re going to badly lag the indices, and in the process unduly enrich your brokerage firm, the tax collectors, and — yes — CNBC and Jim Cramer. Cramer’s show is just another stupid tax, like a state lottery, or cigarettes.
Second, he says he likes it (fast-forward to about 3:15 and watch to the end).
As a side note, I may not be able to embed TheStreet.com videos, but I sure can embed Jon Stewart’s take on Cramer’s Bear Stearns call — just fast-forward to 4:40 or so:
[Link: Jon Stewart on Cramer.]