It's sad when just about the only place to get the truth about what happened to precipitate the current mortgage-lending mess is the Colbert Report.
Jim Cramer of CNBC's "Mad Money" appeared on the Comedy Central show on Monday.
The takeaway soundbites:
Cramer said "I'd love to, but I can't" pin the blame for the debacles at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on President Bush.
He noted that "the Democrats got a lot of campaign contributions from Fannie and Freddie and vice-versa. It was a big circle," and that this is what enabled the two government-sponsored enterprises to continue "to lend to anybody."
Though Colbert was in attempting-comedy mode, Cramer eventually got to the point where he clearly wasn't kidding (video is at the National Review Media Blog link).
Here's the relevant verbiage, which begins at the 2:20 mark (bolds are mine):
The shock and awe of the financial market meltdown is just beginning according to CNBC star Jim Cramer.
Cramer on CNBC's Sept. 29 "Mad Money" cautioned viewers about the current market. His advice - do nothing because there's more pain to come if no rescue plan makes it out of Congress. As he put it: "sit on your hands."
"Only those stocks that are sure enough to pull the trigger on until we get to Dow 8,200 ... I said if the plan failed - only those you should be looking at - looking at," Cramer said. "Today's 777-point drop was just the beginning. Now is not the time to put your money at risk, it's the time to protect your nest egg."
Cramer recommended only stocks of companies that didn't need to borrow money in an environment with tough credit and sold products that would still be in demand during a bad economy - a very narrow spectrum of stocks. Otherwise, he told viewers to put their money in FDIC-insured banking accounts.
The theory that bailout legislation recently defeated in the House of Representatives would make money for the federal government has been propagated by the financial media. But according to a recent report released by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), a profit is unlikely.
"What you find in the IMF report is of course that banking crises happen all the time," Patelis said. "If you look at the history of banking crises - that on average they cost about 13 percent of GDP to the government, both in terms of direct recapitalization costs, but also lost revenue."
On The Situation Room today, CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer made a surprising admission to, of all people, real estate entrepreneur Donald Trump:
BLITZER: What do you think of his (Obama's) decision to pick Joe Biden as his running mate?
TRUMP: I really don't know Senator Biden but I know one thing. He's run a number of times for president. He's gotten less than 1 percent of the vote each time. And that's a pretty tough thing. You know, he's also been involved in pretty big controversy like plagiarism in college and various other things. That's a pretty big statement. So perhaps you change over a period of time. But when you plagiarize, that's a very bad statement. That hasn't been brought up yet, but I'm sure at some point it will. I'm sure that Sarah Palin will bring it up in a debate or somebody's going to bring it up.
BLITZER: Are you talking about plagiarism when he was running for president?
TRUMP: No, I'm talking about when he was a college student as I understand it, and this was a big issue originally but he supposedly plagiarized as a college student. That's a pretty serious charge.
BLITZER: I don't remember that. We'll check it out. But maybe you obviously have a better memory about that.
On CNN's American Morning today, White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux reported on Barack Obama's campaigning in Virginia. Afterwards, anchor Kiran Chetry had a question:
CHETRY: All right. And Suzanne, what's on tap for the campaign today? And please tell me it's not lipstick again.
MALVEAUX: Let's hope not. He's going to be in Norfolk, Virginia. That is in southeast Virginia, and it's home to the world's largest Naval base. It's one of the most competitive areas that the Democrats and Republicans are fighting over. It's a critical piece of property, piece of land there with folks in Virginia, and they want those voters.
On MSNBC's "Morning Joe" September 8, Jim Cramer took a shot at owner of The Wall Street Journal, Rupert Murdoch, in the midst of talking about the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac takeover:
I read The Wall Street Journal, sorry, The Fox Street Journal. When is Murdoch going to put his positive right wing implant on left wing journalists? ... When is Murdoch going to broom the Spartacus workers union?
As for Fannie and Freddie, Cramer told the hosts of the September 8 broadcast that "We had a laissez-faire attitude. Now we are going to have the greatest bureaucracy in history created by Republicans. I'm an agent of change," Cramer said sarcastically.
Later in the segment, Cramer joked that the Democratic Party were "Bolsheviks" quipping, "There. How's that for biased media?"
But on the August 27 "Mad Money," Cramer bucked his that trend and called for higher taxes for top income earners. On his "Mad Mail" segment, a n e-mailer asked Cramer if Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama's plan to raise taxes on incomes higher than $250,000 and redistribute the money to lower income earners would be good for the economy.
"If Obama puts more money in the hands of the majority of the consumers in this country (who make less than $250,000), won't that be a big push for the economy, and in turn for stocks?" the viewer, "Laurence in Iowa," asked.
"This blog is one of the places we'll tell these stories," BusinessWeek.com reporter Tim Catts wrote on the blog's first post on May 2. "Here, we'll jump into the conversation about where the economy is and where it's going. Yes, sometimes we'll look at the latest data. Sometimes we'll share observations from the road. The goal is to give readers real stories about how the downturn is affecting individuals, businesses, and communities."
However, activity on the blog has been scarce of late. Nearly three months later, there are just 22 posts. Meanwhile, the nation's Gross Domestic Product grew at a 1.9 percent pace for the second quarter of 2008, according to government estimates announced July 31.
Disclaimer: Yes, Joe and Chris. We know Jim was joking.
Money maven Jim Cramer is a self-described Democrat, one who idolized Lenin back in his Harvard days [Cramer's, not Lenin's] and was on the verge of tears over the downfall of his old college buddy Eliot Spitzer. But one Dem not high on Cramer's list is Jimmy Carter, so much so that Cramer feigned dismay to be informed that—contrary to his [tongue-in-cheek] belief—the former president is still among the living.
The host of CNBC's "Mad Money," a guest on today's Morning Joe, was buoyant about the economy, saying the surge in oil prices is over and that happier, if not downright happy, days are ahead. It was when he cautioned people about being sure not to exceed FDIC insurance limits on their bank deposits that Carter came up . . .
Coming off his April 2 interview with Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) on his show "Mad Money," CNBC's Jim Cramer told "Squawk Box" his job entails some hazards.
"You know, look, obviously I've had a lot of death threats," Cramer said on CNBC's April 3 "Squawk Box." "They're actual death threats. And, you go to the state police and the state police go to the local police and the local police call the guy and that's what you have to do, or you bring suit against them. I've had to do a lot of that."
Cramer emphasized his active response to anyone who threatened his life.
"You know, the death threats are not cool," Cramer said. "You know, anybody with a death threat, I go after them with everything I have."
"The American public don't know jack," Cramer said in response to a question from CNBC correspondent Michelle Caruso Cabrera about justifying the move to the American public. "They're just glad they're just not going to lose their job. I mean, this thing was so out of control. Everybody on Wall Street thought they were going to lose their jobs 10 days ago. We're thrilled."
CNBC "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer came under fire recently for telling viewers Bear Stearns (NYSE: BSC) wasn't in trouble just days before the investment bank tanked. He has finally admitted some fault.
"No! No! No! Bear Stearns is not in trouble," Cramer said on his program March 11. "If anything, they're more likely to be taken over. Don't move your money from Bear."
The following weekend, confidence in the investment bank disintegrated. On March 17 it was announced JP Morgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) would take over Bear Stearns at $2 a share after the Federal Reserve agreed to back the takeover.
Cramer appeared on CNN's March 23 "Reliable Sources" to maintain that he meant not to move your money from Bear Stearns the investment bank - not Bear Stearns' common stock - on his stock-picking show. However, Cramer told host Howard Kurtz he was wrong about the general health of Bear Stearns.
In a response to an e-mail posted on his Web site on March 11, Cramer said Bear Stearns (NYSE:BSC) wasn't in trouble and advised the writer to keep his money in the investment bank:
"Dear Jim: Should I be worried about Bear Stearns in terms of liquidity and get my money out of there? --Peter
Cramer says: "No! No! No! Bear Stearns is not in trouble. If anything, they're more likely to be taken over. Don't move your money from Bear."
On the day Cramer posted that on his Web site, Bear Stearns had a stock price of $62.97. As of noon March 17, the stock price had plummeted to $3.80 a share after the market opened. On March 16 it was announced that J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) was purchasing the beleaguered investment bank rocked hard by the mortgage fallout.
Jim Cramer is known for wearing his heart on his sleeve. But the host of CNBC's "Mad Money" normally lets his emotions show over matters financial. In August, for example, he went ballistic at Ben Bernanke, pleading with the Fed chairman to lower interest rates in the face of widespread home foreclosures.
This morning, however, Cramer got verklempt not over the discount rate but at the falling fortunes of his friend Eliot Spitzer. Cramer went to Harvard Law with the embattled governor and his wife Silda, and over the years has defended Spitzer against the torrent of criticism directed at the so-called sheriff of Wall Street for his high-handed tactics.
Cramer appeared on this morning's Today to discuss with Meredith Vieira yesterday's dramatic Fed move. But at the end of the interview, Vieira raised the Spitzer situation, and that sent Cramer to the verge of tears. The transcript below doesn't do justice to just how emotional Cramer became, so readers might want to view the video.
They're starting to get it. The media are figuring out government meddling in U.S. energy policy is taking a toll on the American economy.
On February 20, the Labor Department reported that the Consumer Price Index (CPI), a key inflation reading, rose 0.4 percent in January, matching December's rise. Why? Increased food costs because corn is being used for ethanol.
"Farmers are replacing wheat fields with corn to meet the demand for alternative fuel, but that means higher flour prices - and in one Pennsylvania pizza shop, more expensive pies," NBC News correspondent Chris Jansing said on the February 27 "NBC Nightly News."
On January 18, Cramer appeared on MSNBC's "Hardball with Chris Matthews" and warned if the government didn't intervene and prevent the failure of two large insurance companies, Ambac and MBIA, the Dow Jones Industrial Average would drop 2,000 points in the upcoming weeks. Cramer isn't talking about that sort of collapse anymore.
"For months I was worried about [MBIA CFO] Chuck Chaplin and MBIA (NYSE:MBI) and ABK [Ambac Financial Group, Inc.] (NYSE:ABK)," Cramer said on the January 31 "Street Signs." "Everyone's worried about it now? Why should I be worried about it? When you have a problem on your hands and everyone's worried knows about it, [New York State Superintendent of Insurance] Eric Dinallo to [President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York] Tim Geithner, it's done. It's done."
After the Fed made an "emergency" 75-basis-point rate cut this morning, CNBC's "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer, who has gone from bull market cheerleader to bear market doom and gloomer in the last six months, said it was too little too late.
"[T]his is obviously the kind of action I was most fearful of - which is that they would have to go panic and that they would get way behind the curve," Cramer said on CNBC's January 22 "Squawk Box." "But, you know but once they do it, I'm less ... I can't hammer them as much. This is the kind of action if they had done it three months ago, we would have been safe."
On MSNBC's January 18 "Hardball," Cramer predicted the Dow Jones Industrial Average would decline 2,000 points over the next couple of weeks. However, he was a little less pessimistic after this rate cut.
Of course, Cramer is a regular on NBC's "Today" and "Nightly News" as an expert on the economy. On December 19, Cramer appeared on "Today" and was very critical of Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke for not cutting interest rates more than a quarter point. In another "Today" appearance on January 17, he declared the economy was in a recession, a 180-degree change from his comments earlier in the month when he declared "sunny skies" were ahead for the economy.
"Today" anchor Matt Lauer told Cramer, "People come up to me and say on the street ... they say, ‘Why don't you stop talking about recession? Because simply by talking about it, you're going to freak out consumers and definitely push us into one.' Is there any logic to that thinking?"
"The answer," Cramer said, "is that we have to point out the positives with the negatives." What a novel concept!
In the first two weeks of 2008, the media have focused heavily on fears of a recession in spite of the fact that two surveys of economists put the chances of recession at less than 50 percent. The media have focused on the likelihood of a recession by a ratio of
CNBC “Mad Money” host, resident ranter and stock-picker extraordinaire Jim Cramer can now add “media critic” to his list of duties.
Over the past six months, Cramer has become a YouTube sensation for taking shots at Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, including his infamous “They know nothing” rant on CNBC’s August 3 “Street Signs.”
Today Cramer used his “Stop Trading” segment on CNBC’s “Street Signs” to blast Bernanke some more and accused some in the media of kissing up to Bernanke for the “big interview.”
“I guess I should just kiss up and get the big interview with Ben like everybody else wants,” Cramer said to “Street Signs” fill-in host Melissa Lee. “Sorry, I could care less.”
Cramer obviously wasn't impressed with Bernanke's comments yesterday where he said the Federal Reserve stood ready "to take substantive additional action as needed to support growth and to provide adequate insurance against downside risks."
CNBC's ticking time bomb Jim "Mad Money" Cramer lashed out at the Federal Reserve again on January 2 for not cutting interest rates. This time he suggesting the Fed was intentionally doling out punishment to reckless investors.
"I have to tell you that I look at this situation and I say to myself, ‘They [the Federal Reserve] want it. They want a recession.'" Cramer said on CNBC's January 2 "Squawk on the Street." "They're Puritans. They want to punish the people who were reckless in their eyes and the punishment has still not finished being metedout."
Cramer was called into a discussion about the Fed with CNBC's David Faber and "Squawk Box" co-host Joe Kernan.
"He is a guy that doesn't get regular coal - I'm giving him high-sulfur stinky coal," Cramer said. "He is in the end an academic who is over his head frankly. I hate to say that. He's a volunteer official who is trying to do his best. But he had his chance and he's lost it."
"I'm no longer fiery," Cramer said. "They had their chance," he said four months after the big tirade.
On the December 11 "Street Signs," Cramer's mood swung 180 degrees the other way after the Federal Reserve cut interest rates only 25 basis point to 4.25 percent - viewed as a disappointment by the shock stock picker.
CBS Correspondent Anthony Mason would probably call it the not-so-almighty dollar, and he’d be correct if U.S. economic health was viewed only through the narrow lens of currency exchanges.
“[T]he weak dollar is really wreaking havoc on investor confidence and in many ways, the impact is just beginning to be felt,” Mason said on CBS’s November 12 “The Early Show.” “The dollar, once the gold standard of currencies, is falling hard and fast around the world. At $1.46, the euro is up nearly 12 percent against the greenback. The yen traded at 110.38 per dollar, an 18-month high. And for the first time since 1976, the Canadian dollar has risen over 20 percent in value against the U.S. dollar at $1.06.” (Click here to see video.)
But while the dollar is lagging, some experts think the dollar is undervalued.
“No, he's not doing his job,” Cramer said to host Meredith Vieira, in his usual animated, over-the-top manner. “This is New York State. This is not the federal government. He is making it so that the very institutions we need right now to provide money for people are gun shy – Fannie Mae, Washington Mutual.”
Cramer, host of the CNBC’s “Mad Money” called liberal Democratic New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo as “communist” on CNBC’s November 7 “Street Signs.”
“[W]itness the fact that right now, the most important man in America for the stock market – the most important man and I mean it negatively is this guy Andrew Cuomo, the New York State Attorney General,” Cramer said. “I’m getting tired of the New York State Attorney General being the most important man in America.”
“I know that most people are very fearful of Hillary being elected,” Jim Cramer said to Matthews on the October 29 “Mad Money.”
“Well, they ought to be fearful,” Matthews responded. “Democrats raise taxes and Hillary already said she's going to repeal the Bush tax cuts. The Republicans start this election with their hole card, the ace showing – they’re going to keep taxes lower. That’s always a big plus for Republicans.”