Did Cramer Cause a Crash?
Why is Fox attacking Jim for being right?
You've probably seen the advertisements: "The last thing you need is bad advice, the last thing you need is Jim Cramer."
First of all, why are they even mentioning us? We like all the free publicity we can get, but this feels like the McCain campaign flailing around by going 100% negative against Obama because they don't feel like they have a shot at winning. Et tu, Fox?
But let's look at what they cite as evidence for this: Jim's sell call on Today a week ago! They also link to this knucklehead Jason Schwarz at Seeking Alpha, who says Jim should be suspended for telling people to sell on Today last week. The LA Times explains why this guy is not to be taken seriously.
But let's take a step back. Jim Cramer tells people to sell ahead of the market's worst week since the depression and his advice is...bad? He sidesteps the biggest one-week decline since he's been born and he's...irresponsible? He gets people out ahead of the sell-off and he should be...suspended?
I can understand why all the professional touts hate the fact that Jim called it like he saw it. But he was right. His job is to tell you what he thinks will happen, not tell you to buy and hold forever, a money-losing strategy, or be a permabull (funny because he's been attacked for just that before – damned if you do, damned if you don't?). He thought things were bad, he told people to sell – something he'd been doing for weeks beforehand, and then the market went down. That's called getting it right.
And no, Jim Cramer didn't cause the crash. Come on people, I've heard this over and over again. Are you serious? Jim Cramer cannot make the market go up or down. He can't part the Red Sea, turn water into wine, or to the best of my knowledge come back from the dead either. I understand a lot of people have a lot of money on the line and they didn't like the action last week. They want a scapegoat. Well guess what, Jim didn't want the market to go down either. He just thought it would. Advising people to raise cash ahead of a big sell-off is responsible, despite what the fanatical adherents of buy-and-hold will tell you. And by the way, on Friday night's show, after the market had taken its lumps, we suggested it was time to start buying again. (Cramer likes defensive picks like Kraft, Coca-Cola, Merck, Altria and Heinz.)
This is what responsible investors do. They sell if they think stocks are going down. They buy if they think stocks are going up. Jim's just giving people his advice, and lately it's been pretty good.
I've got to tell you, this was the best call Jim has made on Mad Money. And if he were anyone else, they'd be praising him to high heaven for it. But because people think of him as a TV host, not a guy who ran money successfully, he gets attacked endlessly.
One more thing: Fox seems to be implying that Jim caused the big sell-off last week. If that was really the case – obviously it's not – wouldn't that be a reason to watch Jim? I mean, if the market really hangs on his every word, if a single appearance on the Today show can knock a couple thousand points off the Dow, why the heck would you watch the competition?
Cliff Mason is the Senior Writer of CNBC's Mad Money w/Jim Cramer, and has been that program's primary writer, in cooperation with and under the supervision of Jim Cramer, since he began at CNBC as an intern during the summer of 2005. Mason was the author of a column at TheStreet.com during 2007, which he describes as "hilarious, if short-lived." He graduated from Harvard College in 2007. It was at Harvard that Mason learned to multi-task, mastering the art of seeming to pay attention to professors while writing scripts for Mad Money. Mason has co-written two books with Jim Cramer: Jim Cramer's Mad Money: Watch TV, Get Richand Stay Mad For Life: Get Rich, Stay Rich (Make Your Kids Even Richer). He is 100% responsible for any parts of either book that you did not like.
Mason has also had a fruitful relationship with Jim Cramer as his nephew for the last 23 years and will hopefully continue to hold that position for many more as long as he doesn't do anything to get himself kicked out of the family.
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