Jim Cramer Jumps the Shark

By Joe Campbell
March 5th, 2009

[digg-reddit-me]Isn’t that what Jim Cramer does on every show, you might ask? That’s a fair point.

But what if Jim Cramer has now decided that he will dedicate himself to defeating Barack Obama’s agenda, declared himself to be on the “White House enemies list;” and that what he is doing now is what he has done all along – to “fight to help viewers and readers make and preserve capital.” That’s what I call jumping the shark. Bad investment advice is what Cramer does entertainingly. But this sense of self-grandiousity – and his seeming demand to be taken seriously instead of as a ridiculous figure. That’s too much.

The self-puffery is evident as Cramer insists he is on a “White House enemies list” (his source is the noted Democratic party insider Rush Limbaugh). Cramer thinks he is on this “list” because made an outrageous comment about White House policy being designed to destroy wealth and kill kittens, and when questioned about it, the White House press secretary pointed out that Mr. Cramer’s advice on how to create wealth wasn’t what the White House was looking for.

Cramer claims he has spent his career helping viewers and readers “preserve” their capital  – and that his advice now to oppose Obama is just a continuance of that. So for a moment, let’s look at the fate of those who would have followed Cramer’s advice in the past. The Consumerist points out that if one had followed Jim Cramer’s stock-picking advice since 2000, you would have been better served by flipping a coin – as Jim Cramer’s advice is slightly worse than a coin toss.

This is also the guy who publicly advised his viewers on October 31, 2008 2007, just before the beginning of this stock market slide:

You should be buying things and accept that they are overvalued, but accept that they’re going to keep going higher. I know that sounds irresponsible, but that’s how you make the money. Right now, up is down, left is right, peace is war. [my emphasis]

Eric Tyson supplements this by describing some of Cramer’s more recent investment advice:

  • Bear Stearns. Cramer recommended buying this stock on 8/17/07 at $118.20 per share. He lost 95 percent on this one – selling at just under $6 per share on 3/20/08.
  • Morgan Stanley. Cramer recommended buying this stock on 9/15/06 at $70.95 per share. Its recently been trading in the mid-teens.
  • Lehman Brothers. Cramer recommended this stock on 10/17/05 at $55.18 per share. On 9/5/08 with the stock trading at $16 per share, on CNBC, Cramer selected Lehman as a “screaming buy” and said things couldn’t get any worse for the company. The stock now trades at less than $1 per share for more than a 99 percent loss for Cramer.
  • Merrill Lynch. Cramer recommended buying this stock on 9/19/05 at $60.17 per share and sold it on 9/12/08 for $17.05 per share for a 72 percent loss…

(And, by the way, Cramer recommended buying financial services giant AIG on 11/7/05 at $66.34 per share and the stock currently trades around $2 per share for a 97 percent loss.)

Given his history, it’s a bit rich of Jim Cramer to claim his career has been about “preserving” anything other than his own entertaining presence. If he meant to dedicate his life to “preserving the wealth of his viewers and readers,” clearly he’s been quite a miserable failure. In terms of sheer lunacy, on the other hand, he’s still got it.

But I, for one, am grateful the White House isn’t following the Jim Cramer guide to wealth creation. And for those of you that are – I might advise you invest in a solid coin to flip, as it would apparently serve you better.

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