Friday, May 13, 2011

NYT: Jim Cramer Hits an All Time High

If you are interested in the wild man from infotainment financial TV, the New York Times has a quite in depth expose here on Jim Cramer.  Quite a bit of interesting info, including Cramer's take on the undressing he took at the hands of Jon Stewart.  (if you missed it see here May 13, 2009 - Jim Cramer v Jon Stewart)


When it was announced that Cramer was going on “The Daily Show” to debate Stewart, the media ballyhooed the clash as if it were the reincarnation of Ali-Frazier, albeit with two quick-witted, wise-guy Jewish flyweights.

“There was a real sense of excitement in the newsroom here when Cramer left for ‘The Daily Show,’ ” Mark Hoffman told me. They all thought that if anybody had a chance to go toe to toe against Stewart, it would be Cramer.

They were wrong. For 15 long minutes, Cramer sat abjectly as Stewart pummeled him. Worse, he accused Cramer of being a snake-oil salesman and suggested that he and his colleagues at CNBC were responsible for cheerleading Wall Street shenanigans that wrecked the investments of millions. Cramer greeted this with an abashed grin and repeated apologies for his role in the economic mess. People expecting to hear from the confident Jim Cramer of “Mad Money” were stunned.

“It’s unbelievable, I know, but I never saw it coming,” he told me as we sat in a booth in the diner gorging on a breakfast of bacon and eggs. “The night before Stewart, a bartender in Brooklyn wished me luck, and I didn’t get what he was talking about. I expected a cordial discussion. They promised they wouldn’t use any clips, and they lied,” Cramer said. (“The Daily Show” declined to comment.) “I should have known this was coming because of how vicious Stewart had been all week, but I really thought it was just going to be a friendly show.”


At the beginning of each episode of “Mad Money,” Cramer states his purpose: “I’m not here to make you friends. I’m here to make you money.” He portrays himself as an insider willing to reveal the moneymaking tricks of the trade to the little guy. During the bull market of the mid-2000s, Cramer’s fans indeed made money in the market (as did most other investors) and had fun doing it.

But when the economy began to collapse three years ago, Cramer became a very visible symbol of what had gone wrong. He famously interviewed Wachovia’s C.E.O. on the air, recommending the stock right before the bank’s shares plummeted. For a brief moment it looked as though the traditional world of Wall Street was destined for drastic reform, and as if Cramer, and other stock-market gurus, would go down with the old regime. That, of course, didn’t happen. Though the rest of the economy is still in a quagmire, the stock market has emerged exultant: Wall Street is its old self, and Cramer has positioned himself again as the people’s stockbroker.


In 2000, Cramer had his best year in the market — an astonishing 38 percent return — and his worst one as a human being. “Everyone was afraid for me,” he says. “My father told me I was going to die before he did — literally die — at a young age, like my mother. He was right too. I was 46, my blood pressure was off the charts, I was so weak and out of shape that I was afraid to go to the doctor.” Cramer began experiencing long bouts of anxiety, increasingly severe panic attacks and imaginary coronaries. In November he suffered a complete breakdown and went on medication to help him stay calm and fight off irrationality. To outsiders it looked as if he was walking away at the top of his game. In fact, it was a no mas moment. “Life was total misery. I had the money. I had won. All I could do now was lose.”

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