There is a hefty profile of James J. Cramer in the NYT magazine this weekend that is worth reading.

But here’s the one thing you need to understand about Jim Cramer:  If you read financial blogs or follow StockTwits or do any sort of research online, the archeology of that traces back to Cramer. He is the Big Bang of financial blogging, the “Adam & Eve” of online financial research. That sort of farsight is none too common in this business.

You may not know this, but TheStreet.com was a factory that churned out award winning journalists and market beating fund managers like Hershey’s kisses. Josh Brown, once likened TheStreet.com to the “Motown Records of the Financial Web.” They were the farm team for the world of financial reporting, where the media bigs came to look for the next hire.

The number of people who came out of TSCM to become household names in financial reporting and asset management is quite astonishing: TheStreet.com alumni include Aaron Task (Yahoo Finance), Jesse Eisinger (WSJ/ProPublica) who just won a Pulitzer, Herb Greenberg (CNBC), James Altucher (FT/WSJ), Justin Lahart (WSJ), Paul Kedrosky (Bloomberg), Adam Lashinsky (Fortune), Alex Berenson (NYT), Simon Constable (WSJ), Dave Kansas (WSJ), Gail Griffin, (Barrons), John Edwards (WSJ) David Gaffen (WSJ/Reuters), Lauren LaCapra (Reuters), Colin Barr (Fortune), Tim Arango (NYT), Dagen McDowell (Fox), David Reilly (Bloomber/WSJ), Peter Eavis (WSJ). Fund managers like Doug Kass, Whitney Tilson, David Merkel, Jeff Matthews, Helene Meisler, Jon Markman, Todd Harrison, and the list goes on and on. I myself am a proud TSCM alumnus.

I have on occasion criticized Jim for some position or another he has taken on sub-prime or housing or the Fed, but that comes with the territory. As much as people bash Cramer, consider this: He is the guy who first conceived of Democratizing financial research and reportage. Whatever money he made for clients as a hedge fund manager is far outweighed by his contribution to you, the modern investor.

The fact that you are reading this on blog, that you may have found on Twitter, traces its roots back to his original idea: That stock research should be accessible to anyone, not merely the privileged few whose large accounts gave them access to analysts.

>

Previously:
The Cramer Abides (March 3rd, 2011)

Source:
Jim Cramer Hits an All-Time High
ZEV CHAFETS
NYT, May 11, 2011
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/15/magazine/jim-cramer-hits-an-all-time-high.html

Category: Analysts, Financial Press, Web/Tech

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

48 Responses to “Here’s the thing you need to understand about Cramer…”

  1. apikoros says:

    Barry, I think that Jesse Eisinger just won (not one) a Pulitzer. Sorry to go all English Teacher on you.

    ~~~

    BR: Damned spell check —

    I’ll fix above, thanks!

  2. Bob A says:

    he’s still an intolerable buffoon

  3. b_thunder says:

    yeah, yeah, “incubator for journalists”….

    Cramer (read: his show and reputation) like everyone else who’s “in the know” (read: Goldman alum) got bailed out by the government that is using Cramer’s own words is For, of and by the Corporations.
    At least he’s honest and admits that The Bernank’s Ponzi is what’s holding up this market.

    Democratizing financial research? I don’t see any research on his show, just an endless INFOMERCIALS with various CEOs. What he’s doing is making regular folks believe that they, like the professional hedge fund managers, can buy high and find bigger fools to sell higher

    ~~~

    BR: This is NOT about his show, capiche?

  4. cfischer says:

    Barry, you’ve made this point many times before, and I don’t think anyone’s arguing it. Jim Cramer was a trailblazer in online financial publication. But at what point does this stop being his “free pass” for the other things he does? His show is a joke; he turns the financial markets into a casino (even moreso than they already are.) His behavior went far beyond irresponsible a long time ago, and he’s doing harm to most of his viewers. Most of his audience wouldn’t ever read a blog like yours: how boring to think about economics when you can BUYBUYBUY Netflix at 100 times earnings. He’s not doing his show for money, I can’t really believe he thinks he’s helping his audience, so that leaves his ego and his celebrity as the reasons, and I think that’s awful.

    I’ll never forget this quote from him, circa 2000: “You want my top 10 stocks for who is going to make it in the New World? You know what? I am going to give them to you. Right here. Right now. OK. Here goes. Write them down — no handouts here!: 724 Solutions, Ariba, Digital Island, Exodus, InfoSpace.com, Inktomi, Mercury Interactive, Sonera, VeriSign, and Veritas Software.”" .. “…you have to throw out all of the matrices and formulas and texts that existed before the Web. You have to throw them away because they can’t make money for you anymore, and that is all that matters. We don’t use price-to-earnings multiples anymore at Cramer Berkowitz. If we talk about price-to-book, we have already gone astray.”

  5. I am not a fan of financial television in general. Mostly dumbed down, too short term oriented.

    I once pitched a show to CNBC — an updated version of Rukeyser — they laughed it out of the room.

    And in my opinion, NO ONE should get a free pass. But people seem to overlook his greatest contribution . . .

  6. AHodge says:

    I saw Kramer outside my DC place Sat eve. 2 wks ago
    in a tux, n wife in long gown, theres a booyah man of the people
    reflected in his toadying CEO interviews?
    he’s also TINY, which just gave me a whole new vision of his tantrums on TV.
    he cant be more than 5’3″ , more like 5′ 2″

    trust me on this Barry
    you are already out in public with more about banking than Kramer will ever ever know
    but he is a character, folks like to watch..

  7. AHodge says:

    Yes tiny Kramer doin the gilded age scene..
    Looked three times to make sure i was seeing it

  8. merjill says:

    Also Lenny Dykstra blogged for TSC. There are blogs for everything now – Knitting blogs, home improvement blogs. Financial blogs were inevitable.

    ~~~

    BR: Name ANY publication that didn’t hire some idiot who later embarrassed them — that includes WSJ, NYT, WaPo, Time/Life, etc.

  9. PDS says:

    Cramer = “Democratization of financial research and reportage”????

    That’s almost as bad a joke as saying Al Gore invented the internet…or he was the genesis of plot for “Love Story”…as an aside, we all no how that worked out..In fact he is the Joe Granville of this bull/bear cycle…When he starts predicting earthquakes and the weather…the ultimate bag holder blues…the end is nigh

    ~~~

    BR: I am not discussing Cramer’s calls, I am talking about changing the financial reporting landscape.

    Lots of people missed it — even after I hit you ver the head with it, you STILL are missing it

  10. AHodge says:

    So i actually read the NYT
    what a perfect BS rendition of his man of the people image
    he may really have found some down home small town guys…
    But Summit is a rich wall street commuter town on the main train line to NYC.
    Worked on Wall st
    tried to buy a fixer up house there 15 years ago
    couldnt afford it.

  11. DSS10 says:

    He still has caused (hundreds) of thousands of financially unsophisticated people to loose money and incur financial losses while he and CNBC profited. His calls on Lucent, AT&T, and other tech bubble stocks were so horrible that they still can not be excused and hiding behind a disclaimer is even more disgusting than his inability to at least come clean on his record. He is slime and by association so is CNBC who protects him from criticism by banning any press that would challenge either his record or competence from appearing on their network. I think that all of the press that is attributed to him these days (including the referenced article) is a product of a PR strategy from an agency campaign aimed at rehabilitating his image and should be taken a faux news at best.

  12. [...] What you need to remember about Jim Cramer:  “He is the guy who first conceived of Democratizing financial research and reportage.”  (Big Picture) [...]

  13. wrongway says:

    I think that an updated version of Rukeyser’s show with you as the host would be great. I would watch it every week and I think it would get good ratings with excellent demographics. CNBC is not the only network you know. How about PBS like Rukeyser?

  14. socaljoe says:

    The value of financial journalism, like that of Cramer’s show, is mostly in the entertainment… not useful, and often detrimental, for successful investment.

  15. kcowan says:

    What most people don’t appreciate is that Jim Cramer is now an entertainer. Following his advice makes about as much sense as following Cosmo Kramer…

  16. wally says:

    “an updated version of Rukeyser”

    Instead of a ‘dinner party’ theme, you could do a fast-food-for-lunch version.

  17. Christopher says:

    Even blind donkeys find a carrot now and again.

  18. wnsrfr says:

    Hey, I get it–I was a very early subscriber (I even paid) to TheStreet.com — Herb Greenberg was great, and Cramer had many general advice articles that were excellent…he also had some great stories…I agree, TheStreet was an early pioneer in web publishing…one huge difference between TheStreet and The Big Picture though, is that TheStreet was in it for the money all the way, always trying-out how to best monitize what they were doing…you backed-into what I would assume is positive cash flow because it was fun and, after all, there is no such thing as a non-profit! You either lose money or make it in any endevour, might as well make it.

  19. Irwin Fletcher says:

    Good post. You are right, Cramer brought the market to millions of people and opened things up.
    Before Cramer, following the market was considered a very boring thing for most people, and left only
    to those more sophisticated.

    The point isn’t the quality of his calls, but rather shining a light on investing and paving the way for so many others to follow. The first trailblazers are usually never the best, but they are the ones who break things open.

    The Wright brothers didn’t design the best airplanes. Interesting how the comments here don’t seem to understand this.

  20. Thank you Irwin!

    I suspect that many didn’t bother reading the piece and these are knee jerk reactions.

  21. Todd in SM says:

    Barry,

    Don’t mean to debate your point, I do agree that Cramer was/is a forceful personality who came along at the perfect moment in history and had a will to bring financial info to the masses. But some historic perspective, at least from my neck of the woods: I had been watching quality financial news in SoCal since the 80s. I know you stated a distaste for Financial TV, but that first iteration was much higher quality. There was an expert chartist on that network who gave me a fantastic introduction to that art.

    So the concept of quality analysis to the masses (via subscription cable TV) was in the wind prior to Cramer and the internet.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KWHY-TV

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Financial_News_Network

  22. moonmullins says:

    Barry, I almost always disagree with you on politics and policy, but in this case I agree 100%.

  23. Livermore Shimervore says:

    Cramer’s autobiography is probably one of the most entertaining reads. Particulary the first 100 pages or so when he talks about how he was basically living in his car and had the same burglar paying a visit to his aparment over and over. The debacle surrounding the crook who was running TheStreet.com for him in the early days was also surprising.

  24. normal1 says:

    I’ve always seen Cramer as a cheerleader for the markets. I’d watch him and think, that guy might actually appeal to a broader population than just about anyone else on tv when it comes to such a complicated and intimidating topic. I recall watching his interview with Jon Stewart where it almost seemed like Stewart was calling him to task for the meltdown and I thought that was too far.

    Sure, he acted like a carnival barker, bringing in fresh meat to the investment houses, but A. it was up to the new investors to educate themselves (as best they could given the reams of info to wade through) and B. he seems sincere in his remorse for the pain viewers have experienced over the past few years (and maybe a little guilt?) But, I think he’s also aware that he’s not one to call out bad behavior since he made it out of the game.

  25. DeDude says:

    He certainly has been true to his idea of bringing it to the people.

  26. smedleyb says:

    Cramer is/was an amazing investor, and he’s the Godfather of online financial journalism.

    Of course there’s gonna be haters.

    Bashing Cramer’s entire opus on the basis of “Mad Money” is like trashing the career of Di Nero because you didn’t like the commercialism of “Meet the Parents.” And that’s before we acknowledge that his ability to keep a stock-picking show going for last 6 years is a testament to his skills as an entertainer.

  27. rktbrkr says:

    He’s an entertaining little twit, he had me laughing out loud when he appeared in a rasta outfit, dreadlocks and all, I think it was for green day.

    His bottom call of 6/30/09 was a thing of beauty, the Hope Diamond of financial entertainment.

  28. Bruman says:

    I see your point, Barry. I came to work with financial markets only in the last 5 years or so, so much of this was already in place when I got here. I know that information was much harder to get before, but I don’t really have much of a sense of just how hard it was compared to today, and also still a fuzzy view of what banks and professional asset managers have that is completely or mostly (because of transaction costs) inaccessible to the ordinary public.

    Which brings me to another question.

    Sometimes I get my fundamental info about a company from Yahoo! Finance or Google Finance, or MSN. I would love to know how you and/or other readers feel about whether these sites provide good or useful information from an investment point of view. I know that by the time it is up on Yahoo! or MSN, it is most likely not *new* information, and so lots of it is probably priced in. But I’d like to know if people immediately dismiss you as a joke if you say that you got some of the info from a source like that. Certainly, I think, some types of technical analysis can be performed with data available there, but what about the fundamental analysis?

  29. James says:

    Nothing like a post on Cramer.

    Personally, I’ve always tried to put him in perspective. I followed his site(s) from the beginning, and latched onto some really smart market/money people, some of whom I still follow like BR. I don’t think enough can be said about what Cramer accomplished with respect to online market commentary, which was so novel then.

    By now he’s a known quantity, and if you’re blinding following his advice you probably shouldn’t be buying or selling stock to begin with.

  30. mitchw says:

    JC made me a few bucks by touting a stock I am long on. Thanks shorty! But I thought he did the show so he could rant about his favorite subject to an audience of mouth breathers. The other guys, I presume, just quietly pay some gal in a tutu to tie them up and stomp on their cocks. Not you though, Barry.

  31. PDS says:

    “I am not discussing Cramer’s calls, I’m talking about changing the financial reporting landscape”
    “Lots of people missed it…even after I hit you over the head with it…you missed it”

    sorry for confusion BR….unfortunately you appear to have missed the broader issue we raise of his overall lack of credibility and respect….what you and I are talking about are one in the same……Cramer as transparency creator, originator and educator is a stretch…he suffers from a street cred gap when it comes to being the “changing the financial reporting landscape” messiah you suggest…just cause u say it is so…doesn’t make it…..

  32. PDS says:

    btw BR…as an aside and while we are on the subject of transparency and financial reporting etc that JC helped to democratize for us less fortunate ones out here in blogosphere hinterlands…did Thestreet.com ever get that little reporting problem squared away…the one re the Promotion.com acquisition, that the SEC were after them about last year???? kinda went away…just askn cause it comes back to the credibility, or lack of it, issue I raised earlier

  33. mad97123 says:

    Here’s a guy who goes on camera to brag about spreading rumors and lying to the media to manipulate the market. Now we should all bow down and worship this ethic-less con artist? But everyone on Wallstreet would do this if they could, so why should we hold him accountable? He is to be admired for his trading skills.

    His behavior as a Hedge Fund manager pretty much embodies why Main Street hates Wall Street. I don’t care if he invented the iPod, bottom line is he is still dishonest.

  34. bergsten says:

    OK, but here’s the important question (at least for the history books) — was it “his” idea, or did he “borrow” it, or “improve” it? Was he smart or lucky or timely or all three? Was he even first?

    Seems inevitable that finance would (as everything else has) end up on the Internet eventually, but perhaps this is easy to say in retrospect.

    ~~~

    BR: From what I understand, he stole it from the Winklevoss brothers . . .

  35. schodack says:

    Personally think that while he was ahead of his time, the environment wouldn’t look so different today. I also have to roll out the Catholic priest issue, i.e., doing “God’s work” 95% of the time doesn’t earn you a free pass to molest the alter boys during the other 5% of your time.

  36. foss says:

    So without Cramer, I’d still be living in a world without financial blogs/advice/material/analysts?

    And without Edison we wouln’t have the light bulb? perhaps you are right. perhaps you are blinded (a bit) by loyalty.
    I’d prefer to be a bit more nuanced. Cramer was ahead of his time. His legacy in the world of financial blogosphericality is secure. His legacy as a ‘snake oil salesman’ is also secure.

    Maybe it is fine to be both. I happen to disagree. Strongly.

    ~~~

    BR: Of course we would have — eventually — had cars light bulbs and iPhones without Henry Ford, Thomas Edison and Steve Jobs. But that does not mean the people who helped to invent those things and move technology forward do not deserve credit . . .

  37. Joe T says:

    What? You cured cancer? No big deal, someone else would have cured it eventually!

  38. gratianus says:

    I’ve always thought Cramer, when he wasn’t a sideshow barker, had some excellent instincts. I notice that your list of TSC alumni who went on to bigger posts elsewhere is heavy in names that were there once upon a time. The current batch seems lackluster with the exception of people like Doug Kass. Back in the day, you could count on substantial comments with depth. Today, it seems most everything on both TSC and Real Money (I just cancelled my sub) is far more trading oriented or to use Ben Bernanke’s favorite adjecive “transient.” Maybe TSC/RM are just catering to the trader mentality, but the site lost its usefulness as far as I was concerned.

  39. dmunson says:

    Yea right. Just like Goldman Sachs is an award winning collection of saints and hero’s willing to sacrifice themselves for the greater good of man. [BR: I always thought of GS as mecenary traders out to make a buck]

    Cramer is a spokesperson for the world of hedge funds.

  40. MikeW says:

    My nickname for CNBC is “Short Attention Span Theater”, and yet somehow I’m still addicted. Even my username on this blog has the ring of an AA meeting about it.

    I realized the absurdity of my CNBC addiction some while back when Dylan Ratigan dismissed a prominent (and quite interesting) economist who had been permitted to speak for a minute or so by saying, “…we’d love to continue to speak with you, but we’re pressed for time..”, and then allowed the usual panelists to fill the remainder of the hour with more or less the same things they say every day.

    Still, CNBC does provide many creditable and important people (BR not least among them) a prominent soapbox, so kudos for that.

    Funny thing about American culture. A source like FinancialSense.com which does intelligent, long-format interviews remains obscure, but soundbite hollering is treated as real journalism.

  41. JimRino says:

    There are times when Honor and Character are more important then money.
    The year 2008 was one of those times, Cramer and Kudlow both demonstrated they’d sell out their mothers for the Banks and Hedge funds, and Lied to their Viewers.

    Those are the defining times for a man, and these two failed.
    They can’t be trusted, they’re opinions are worthless.

  42. V says:

    “He is the guy who first conceived of Democratizing financial research and reportage.”

    You could say this process has a long ways to go, when a bank can close on Friday and then not open on Monday $100 billion in a hole. There is plenty of research, reportage and general market transparency still required.

  43. PDS says:

    Sounds like some one has a “man crush”….why do you feel compelled to defend him BR?….he has has big enough bullypulpit….and is a big boy…according to the NYT’s

  44. Anytime I can present a perspective from a different more informative angle than what is typically believed, I am happy to do so. (Like the Microsoft piece earlier this week) That is what this was.

    You either appreciate it and get something out of it or you don’t.

  45. Joe says:

    It’s a complicated world and that’s not even including all the people in it. I’m not above totally writing people off for their cumulative life score, some people seemed to be designed just for that. But who and when is my call, as it is yours in your life. But to do so wholesale diminishes the world and the persons around you markedly. In strictly personal terms, my relationship with Cramer through TheStreet.com has been in large part and cumulatively positive. For pretty much the reasons BR stated. But then I’m totally comfortable with having friends and business associates whose company I prize, yet who I would not have marry my widow, raise my kids, hold my credit cards, work on my car, or talk to the cop for me if I was in a traffic stop. You have to know someone’s limits. Not many people pass my phone booth test, but many of them who don’t are damn fine persons to someone. Cramer may not clear a lot of people’s value tests, but to find him without redeeming social value is a matter of personal opinion. To which you are entitled. YMMV

  46. David Merkel says:

    Barry, thanks for including me in the list. I don’t deserve it.

    Like you, I don’t always agree with Cramer, but you know what?! He was brave, and willing to bring talented voices onto RM and TSCM even if they didn’t agree with him. He took chances with people who succeeded big, and others who flopped, and disappeared.

    He wanted to build something bigger than himself, and he tried, but his own character and effort overshadowed the rest of us. There was a parade of #2-5 characters over the years, but it was difficult for them to be overshadowed for too long before they sought out their own venues to build their brands.

    But he launched a fleet of journalists and bloggers who today are a major part of the financial news feed, and it is far more intelligent than what we had 15 years ago. We get to the truth a lot faster, and with a lot of interesting debates in the process.

    So I salute Jim Cramer for taking a chance on me, and for having the guts to create a firm that accepted intelligent, discordant voices that were not merely a replica of himself.

    Thanks, Barry, and thanks, Jim.