In 2007, "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer expressed his frustration about Federal Reserve members ignoring signs of the upcoming financial recession on CNBC's "Street Signs." Here is the full transcript of his interview with former CNBC host Erin Burnett.
Cramer: Memo to Bear Sterns, you've got to adopt a Henry Ford attitude here, which is never explain, never complain, and they didn't do that. You keep your mouth shut during this period. You don't say a thing because you're going to say something that we don't like.
Burnett: But then we complain, and we say hey, come on guys. Come out here and talk about your exposure –
Cramer: Keep your mouth shut because no, you speak softly and you wait until that level where you think the shorts have overdone the stock and you do what [Lehman Brothers CEO] Dick Fuld did in 1998 and pick up the phone to guys like me and you say 32 bid, $1 million. Then you get whacked and then you come back and you say 31 bid for $2 million. They're not doing that. That inspires more fear. I don't want to create fear. I like Bear Sterns very much. But I think that at this stage, this is not a good call, they shouldn't have done it and should have just said, "You know what? We are doing well and don't say another thing."
Burnett: I just –
Cramer: Just don't say it because it does not inspire confidence to have 10 headlines coming over about what to do. I don't like it.
Burnett: Alright. I hear you. Now I still, though, you know, when we say, "Hey, look, let's" –
Cramer: The Dow can rally. We've seen the Dow rally.
Burnett: I know, but I mean, it's just interesting, this bigger issue for companies –
Cramer: This is about [former Fed Chair Ben] Bernanke. He has to be on that call. Forget the investors. The investors are going to do if –
Burnett: I'm sure someone like Bernanke –
Cramer: Bernanke has to open the discount window. That's how bad things are out there. Bernanke needs to focus on this. [Bernanke's predecessor] Alan Greenspan told everyone to take a teaser rate and then raise the rate 17 times and Bernanke is being an academic. It is no time to be an academic. It is time to get on the Bear Sterns call, listen, open the darn Fed window. He has no idea how bad it is out there. He has no idea! He has no idea!
Burnett: Cramer –
Cramer: I have talked to the heads of almost every single one of these firms in the last 72 hours and he has no idea what is like out there. NONE! And [former St. Louis Fed Chief] Bill Poole has NO IDEA what it's like out there. My people have been in this game for 25 years and they're LOSING THEIR JOBS and these firms are gonna GO OUT OF BUSINESS and he's nuts. They're NUTS! They know NOTHING!
Burnett: Cramer –
Cramer: I have not seen it like this since I went five bid for a half a million shares of Citigroup and I got hit in 1990. This is a different kind of market. And the Fed is ASLEEP.
Burnett: Okay, but here's the thing –
Cramer: Bill Poole is a shame, he's SHAMEFUL!
Burnett: Hold on, hold on, hold on. I know you're passionate about this but hold on for a second –
Cramer: He oughta GO, and READ the Accredited Home document, at least I READ the darn thing.
Burnett: Hold on, I know you're passionate and I hear you, but at the same time a lot of people are saying yes, there are certain types of mortgages that aren't available. There are all sorts of issues –
Cramer: You can't get a darn loan if you are rich like me.
Burnett: But Cramer, but Cramer. If he did what you said –
Cramer: Cut the darn discount window. Cut the rate. Open the discount window. Cut the rate. Relieve the pressure.
Burnett: If he cuts rates, you are going to have, that's going to cause an Armageddon.
Cramer: No, we have an Armageddon. In the fixed income markets we have Armageddon.
Burnett: No, but that's not what they said. When I've talked to a couple bank CEOs and they don't say it's Armageddon.
Cramer: If they cut the rate –
Burnett: They say it's re-pricing, they're very firm about that now.
Cramer: Oh, let them be calm and then have them call me on the way home like they do and tell me, "Cramer what are you going to do about it? Are you going to help us? Are you going to stand on the sideline like everybody else and say that it is fine? Will somebody come on TV and tell the truth about how bad it is?"
Burnett: But a lot of people say these same people say, it's not Ben Bernanke that matters. The bond market now is separate from the rate.
Cramer: Its entirely the rate. Look, we will spend billions in Iraq to build homes. We are going to have thousands of people, we have thousands of people losing their homes right now. Fourteen million people took a mortgage in the last 3 years. Seven million of them took teaser rates or took piggyback rates. They will lose their homes. This is crazy.
Burnett: Yes –
Cramer: And I'm sorry to be upset about it but you have to understand what they're saying to me off the record before I come in here, every night and every day, I hear from these blow hard managers. Call someone for heaven's sake! Go call someone! I worked fixed income at Goldman Sachs. This is not the time to be complacent.
Burnett: Alright. That's –
Cramer: Sometimes I wish I didn't know anybody so I can sit here and say you know what, just go buy some Washington Mutual and take that yield. Unfortunately, I know too many people and I'm too darn old.
Burnett: You are 62. Actually, 63.
Cramer: I mean look, I've gotta tell ya. He has got to listen. He has got to call. He has got to listen and call someone. Bernanke has to call someone!
Burnett: He is! I can't believe he is just sitting there in his little gilded office.
Cramer: No, no! They're not calling anybody. And Bill Poole, Bill Poole.
Burnett: I know what you think of Bill Poole.
Cramer: Listen to me, there was a president by the name of Hoover and no one thinks much of him now. A great engineer.
Burnett: Cramer –
Cramer: Sorry, I'll leave here and get another 10 calls from the trading desk from guys telling me, "Cramer, will you please speak up! You can do it, you know that we know you." That's what they do!
Disclosure: Cramer's charitable trust owns shares of Citigroup.