Before today, CNBC "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer was known for his outlandish statements and crazed antics that would land him in the public spotlight.
However, Cramer got one-upped today by CNBC's Rick Santelli, calling for something like a "Chicago Tea Party" revolt against the redistributionism that is plaguing our federal government. Cramer, in his "Stop Trading" segment on CNBC's "Street Signs" on Feb. 19, remarked it was odd no one was talking about Exxon-Mobil (NYSE:XOM) downgrade, overshadowed by Santelli's revelation.
"I'm sorry not be screaming about class warfare and how you should have your house ripped out from underneath you, but I actually get excited about stocks," Cramer said.
What's really revolting about this is the studio reaction. While it's maybe half-kidding at times, the fact that strong opposition to government policies expressed by Santelli and the traders makes these reporters instinctively think of the them being "putty" in Santelli's hands and of "mob rule" is very, very telling -- especially since I haven't heard a peep out of any reporter worried about "mob rule" in ACORN's civil disobedience campaign designed to prevent the carrying out of lawful foreclosures.
Here's a transcript of most of what was said earlier today (I would add bolds, but I would have to bold almost everything):
"We got the market top in November 2007 at about 14,000 on the Dow," Navarro explained to co-host Mark Haines. "And we went down to 8,000 over the course of the year. We've been in this sideways pattern since until recently at 8,000. We put the fiscal stimulus in place. We put the bank bailout in place. The market says we don't like it. We break that critical support level."
Everything is wonderful and peachy-keen in Obamaland if you rely on the reporting on the front page of The New York Times. Just ask CNBC's Jim Cramer. On his Feb. 12 program the "Mad Money" host dealt with the $789 billion stimulus package.
"Now if you were to believe what's in the papers, holy cow - except for the funny papers - you would think this package was wonderful," Cramer said he said of the reported agreement congressional leaders had reached on ironing out the package's details.
Cramer was referring to a front-page article by Richard W. Stevenson in the Feb. 12 Times, which gave a glowing account of this as a victory in the early stages of the Obama administration.
"Look at the front page of The New York Times today," Cramer said. "I love this one, ‘Measuring a Victory,' by this guy, Stevenson. He's a famous guy, you know? He's not Robert Louis Stevenson, he's Richard W. Stevenson. He writes - it's like a comedy routine - ‘It is a quick sweet victory for the new president and potentially a historic one.' Who edits this B.S.?"
Despite his tax problems, President Barack Obama's newly minted Treasury secretary, Tim Geithner, was sold to Congress as the one who was going to save the fragile financial system.
However, in what was billed to be a big announcement, and Geithner's first major appearance, he failed to deliver. The Treasury Secretary was slated to outline his plan to rescue troubled financial institutions from the toxic assets they had on their books. But he failed to give specifics and the markets suffered; the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) nosedived 382 points.
CNBC "Fast Money" host Dylan Ratigan had his own description of Geithner's performance. In an appearance on MSNBC's Feb. 11 "Morning Joe," he likened it to "soiling a bed."
Don't like the notion of Wall Street employees receiving bonuses? Shoot the messenger - as Adam Green at The Huffington Post has done.
In a Feb. 2 post on The Huffington Post, Green said it was bad form for CNBC "Street Signs" host Erin Burnett to even think about considering the other side of the anti-Wall Street bonus argument, since some Wall Street banks received TARP funds, courtesy of the taxpayer.
"There are, though - well, how should we say this - the taxpayer money is not being used to pay the bonuses," Burnett explained on NBC's Feb. 1 "Meet the Press." "I think people could understand if you work for a company - right? If the three of us worked for a company, your guests, and I lost $10 billion but Steve [Forbes] over there, he made a billion dollars. So overall the company actually loses money, but Steve went and did his very darndest for that company and he made money. So should he be paid for his work? That's essentially what we're talking about here."
With all the populist sentiment generated from the economic slowdown by politicians, CNBC "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer is seeing eerie similarities with the comments of President Barack Obama and the words of a communist revolutionary.
Cramer, appearing on MSNBC's Feb. 2 "Morning Joe," drew comparisons between remarks between the first head of the Soviet Union, Vladimir Lenin, and Obama. Obama criticized Wall Street's moneymaking on Jan. 30, when he said there would be a time "for them to make profits, and there will be time for them to get bonuses. Now's not that time. And that's a message that I intend to send directly to them."
Cramer said that was similar to Lenin's writings. "Let me tell you something, we heard Lenin," Cramer said. "There was a little snippet last week that was, ‘Now is not the time for profits.' Look - in Lenin's book, ‘What Is to Be Done?' is simple text of what I always though was for the communists, it was remarkable to hear very similar language from ‘What Is to Be Done?' which is we have no place for profits."
Moments later, we got our first clue as the conservative talk radio host was interviewed by CNBC's Erin Burnett and Mark Haines.
UPDATE: Better functioning video now embedded; bonus "Fox & Friends" interview video also added at end of post.
Most fascinating, Burnett, who has come across as left of center and pro-Obama, seemed much more interested in Limbaugh's views on this issue than Haines who not only has always struck me as conservative, but has also been quite hostile to Obama's economic positions as well as all the government spending since the financial crisis began last September (video embedded below the fold, full transcript available here):
Who would have thought a blanket with sleeves, available in a variety of pastel colors, could serve as an economic indicator?
While several sectors of industry are seeking bailout money in some form or another, the Snuggie, an oversized fleece blanket with sleeves featured in cable television ads, is one of the good-news business stories of 2009. According to an article in the Jan. 27 USA Today, 4 million Snuggies have been sold and the product has even developed a bizarre cult following. And, according to CNBC "Squawk on the Street" co-host Erin Burnett, that's proof television as a medium isn't dead yet.
"Hey guys, guess what - Joe, you just gave me a thought," Burnett said on the Jan. 29 "Squawk on the Street." "You know how everyone says television is dying and all the advertising is going to go to the Web eventually? Isn't the Snuggie proof that that is not true?"
Between Election 2008 and the early moments of the Obama administration, it was assumed a new New Deal was coming complete with massive infrastructure projects. But, now the stimulus package is so full of other things even some of the most unlikely news outlets have noticed.
In an amazing moment of clarity, resembling the end of a Hardy Boys novel after Frank and Joe solved a mystery, CNBC "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer and MSNBC "Hardball" host Chris Matthews questioned the meager infrastructure spending in the stimulus bill that passed in the House of Representatives on Jan. 28 by a 244-188 margin, without a single Republican vote during "Hardball" that night.
CNBC rabble-rouser and "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer questioned the merits of Timothy Geithner, President Barack Obama's Treasury Secretary-designate, and told viewers on CNBC's Jan. 22 "Street Signs" that, had he been in Geithner's shoes, he'd face criminal prosecution.
"I happen to have a meeting with my lawyers just to discuss this - with my battalion of lawyers, the $2,000-a-hour gang - and you know, they would say if it was Cramer, I would be prosecuted, maybe criminally prosecuted," Cramer said. "And my lawyers were somewhat shocked that on Chris Matthews I said it was OK, given the fact they said Geithner better get himself the best lawyer in town."
Is America in need of a little Mary-J? Not Blige … marijuana.
Mad Money's senior writer Cliff Mason (Jim Cramer's nephew) thinks so. Here's what he wrote on Jan. 15, 2009:
"This may be apocryphal, but when FDR was running for President for the first time in 1932, he said something along the lines of "What America needs now is a good, stiff drink.
Then he won and went on to help end prohibition.
Well, now we've got a new Democratic President coming into office, we're in similarly dire economic straits, and maybe what America needs is a nice toke?"
There was no maybe about it, according to Mason who declared that "It's time to legalize, or at least decriminalize, drugs."
Mason used the familiar argument that decriminalization of drugs would be profitable - read: taxable - and would "keep people from shooting each other." He omitted any reference to the morality of legalization or societal harm that could result.
"This is Larry Kudlow - one of the folks invited to a conservative fest with the president-elect last night," Dobbs said. "I'd like to just share, everybody - what a Larry Kudlow-conservative person does after meeting with the president-elect."
Dobbs cited a few lines from Kudlow's appearance on CNBC's Jan. 14 "The Call" - "He is charming, he is terribly smart, bright, well informed. He has a great sense of humor." Then Dobbs skipped moments in Kudlow's exchange with "The Call" co-host Melissa Francis and added - "He's so well informed and he loves to deal with both sides of an issue."
Newspaper companies as an investment are less lucrative than they once were. Alan D. Mutter, a Silicon Valley CEO, pointed out on his blog that newspaper companies took a hit in 2008 in terms of share value to the tune of $64 billion.
"In the worst year in history for publishers, newspaper shares dropped an average of 83.3% in 2008, wiping out $64.5 billion in market value in just 12 months," Mutter wrote on Jan. 1. "Although things were tough for all sorts of businesses in the face of the worst economic slump since the 1930s, the decline among the newspaper shares last year was more than twice as deep as the 38.5% drop suffered by the Standard and Poor's average of 500 stocks."
Get your popcorn ready - that is if you like seeing the rich portrayed as bad guys and getting punished for their indiscretions.
According to CNBC contributor Michael Wolff, a Vanity Fair contributing editor, that's what's in store for movie fans in the upcoming year. On the Dec. 29 "CNBC Reports," Wolff told CNBC Business News managing editor Tyler Mathisen that Hollywood is greenlighting a spate of films featuring Wall Street heavies, and these projects are coming sooner than later.
"I think as fast as possible," Wolff said. "Every script in the business is now recasting itself - rich people are bad people."
Is it possible the financial media played a role in facilitating the alleged $50 billion Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme? An interesting theory by Jon Najarian, CNBC analyst and cofounder of optionMONSTER, contends that they very well may have unwittingly done just that. Madoff, he believes, used media publicity to lure investors to his scheme.
As Najarian explained on CNBC's Dec. 22 "Fast Money," Madoff got his reputation on Wall Street in the payment for order flow business. That's when a brokerage firm receives a payment as compensation for directing the order to the different parties that can execute the order at a lower cost.
"First of all you needed something that was very credible, because what he started off with was very credible," Najarian said. "As we both know, Dylan, he was in the payment for order flow business before anybody else. That meant folks that he was buying on the bid and selling on the offer back when the spread on NASDAQ stocks was 50 cents wide."
Feeling a little bailout fatigue? Tired of the assault on the taxpayer from the federal government to pacify those influenced by the United Auto Workers? CNBC's Larry Kudlow feels your pain.
Call this red meat for the troubled anti-bailout soul. Kudlow, now performing a role as a co-host on CNBC's mid-morning program "The Call," blasted the Union Auto Worker, President George W. Bush, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and anyone else associated with $17.4 billion in loans for auto companies announced earlier today on Dec. 19.
"This is a full-up pooper scooper for the American taxpayer, which now owns General Motors," Kudlow said. "We're going to have a GM cabinet. Barack Obama is going to be the new car czar because Bush basically pushed this pooper scooper his way."
It's special treatment for automakers, according to a former airline executive.
Gordon Bethune, the former CEO of Continental Airlines (NYSE:CAL), now a CNBC contributor, told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Dec. 19 the political process is being substituted for what otherwise should be a bankruptcy judge in determining the fate of the big three automakers.
"Wow, what makes them exempt from reality? What are the bankruptcy laws invented for?" Bethune asked. "I mean - if it works in airlines, works in steel - what's the matter with these guys? Why not have a judge decide instead of the political process? And, you know - you get some fairness in the federal court, so there's no excuse for this whole debacle I don't think."
The proposed automaker bailout has a big stamp on it that says "union-built," but the news media hasn't noticed.
Over the past month, accusations have been flying against several Southern senators who oppose a $14 billion bailout for the beleaguered big three automakers and support the the alternative of Chapter 11 bankruptcy. These senators, critics say, are representing the interests of foreign automakers that donate heavily to their campaigns. But what has been largely ignored is the other side of the equation - the influence of the United Auto Workers (UAW) on the members of Congress that voted for the bailout.
According to campaign finance data from the Center for Responsive Politics Web site OpenSecrets.org, when broken down by how members of Congress voted, for the 2008 election cycle the UAW gave more than eight times as much in campaign cash to members that voted for the bailout than those that voted against it -- $1.14 million to proponents versus just $136,500 that voted against it.
Last week the Business & Media Institute released its annual Top 10 list of the worst economic myths the media spread in 2008. The list was broad, ranging from “killer tomatoes,” to the collapse of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, to the death of capitalism.
But it was myth number 2 “Welcome to 1929: Great Depression II” that touched a nerve with Cliff Mason, senior writer for Mad Money, because of its criticism of CNBC’s Jim Cramer. By the way, Mason is also Cramer’s nephew according to the disclosure at the end of his bio.
Superhero economist and top-notch investor John Maynard Keynes famously told one of his critics, "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?"
On Mad Money we happen to share that same philosophy. And unfortunately, it's still something of a radical position.
On Thursday, the Business and Media Institute released its list of "The Media's Top 10 Worst Economic Myths of 2008." Jim is mentioned in three of them, but it's myth number 2, "the news media drew hundreds of parallels to the Depression, despite economic data that is not even close," that reminded me of that Keynes quotation.
How about Sean Hannity as editor of the New York Times op-ed page? Maybe O'Reilly and Cavuto in place of Dowd and Krugman as Times columnists? It might not be as far-fetched as it sounds. At least, not if Michael Wolff is right. The Vanity Fair media maven, appearing on CNBC this afternoon, not only said that Rupert Murdoch wants the Gray Lady, but predicted he would get her. [H/t Gat.]
MICHAEL WOLFF: I think that everybody is looking at [the NYT] and waiting for it to kind of go over a brink, to run out of cash, which they're in the process of doing. Or to find itself in a situation where actually, and this is really the key thing, they go looking for a buyer.
A bit later, Wolff, author of a book on Murdoch, mentioned his name as a likely buyer . . .
"You can see that even in Europe, some of the climate concerns, given this, this once in a lifetime recession, John - to put someone that, an advocate of such strong measures," Kernen said on "Squawk Box" Dec. 11. "Really I've seen her called Brownies or Brownistas. Um. That's a little scary with what's happening right now."
Earlier Kernen was discussing cabinet appoints with CNBC Washington correspondent John Harwood and pointed to new regulations Browner could institute:
When Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke speaks, Wall Street listens - and investors should beware. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) has lost over 2,500 points on days he has spoken, including three of the worst point losses ever.
Today's drop in the Dow of 215 points is the 14th time out of the last 20 times the Dow has lost ground on a Bernanke has spoken over the past six months. Bernanke gave a speech at the Federal Reserve System Conference on Housing and Mortgage Markets in Washington today, where he continued to hammer the message the economy is in bad shape.
"The U.S. financial system has been in turmoil during the past 16 months," Bernanke said. "Credit conditions have tightened and asset values have declined, contributing substantially, in turn, to the weakening of economic activity."
That appears to be Jim Cramer's philosophy. The CNBC "Mad Monday" host told NBC "Today" show viewers Dec. 2 that comparisons between the current economy and the Great Depression were inappropriate.
"[T]hat's got to be taken off the table," Cramer told "Today" host Meredith Vieira. "There have been enough things done by this government to absolutely preclude that. I, myself, do not want to use that term ever again on the ‘Today' show even to compare it. Things are very different. We do need help from Europe; we need help from China. But take the Great Depression talk off the table. That is scare tactics."
"I'm reluctant to start talking like that," Cramer said of describing the current recession as "the longest since World War II," as Vieira did. "I've adopted a ‘just the facts, ma'am,' approach, kind of a little bit more of a ‘Dragnet' approach, so to speak. Because when we give those characterizations what happens is we can affect things."
He was right. Comparisons to the Great Depression are way off the mark - Cramer makes them enough, he ought to know.
Some wag dubbed the Prius the "Pious," for the smug self-righteousness of its greener-than-thou owners. CNBC ran a segment this morning highlighting an even pricier form of conspicuous green consumption: the installation of geothermal wells in Manhattan as an alternative form of HVAC.
Narrating a segment that would have had Veblen nodding in approval, CNBC's Bertha Coombs observed "for many, it represents bragging rights in the pursuit of green luxury." That segued to a clip of New York magazine's Jesse Oxfeld explicitly making the conspicuous consumption point.
Update 11-25 8:20 AM: Morning Joe Makes SNL References -- see discussion at foot.
Call it "The Wild 'n Crazy Guy–Billionaire Style." Maria Bartiromo's interview of Saudi Prince Alwaleed, the largest shareholder of Citigroup, is literally a Saturday Night Live skit waiting—begging—to happen.
CNBC's Bartiromo conducted the interview by remote this afternoon. When the camera went to the prince in Riyadh, you might have expected to find him in a TV studio, or perhaps in his business office, maybe even in one of his palace rooms. But no, there he was sitting outdoors, apparently by his stables, with seated camels and sleek horses very visible in the background. And rather than being attired in business or traditional Saudi dress, the Prince was duded up with an open collar, tinted glasses and a scarf warding off the desert's cool night air. He could be seen occasionally fingering what appeared to be golden worry beads.
Is MSNBC being rewarded for having backed Obama? That's what Jim Pinkerton suggests. On this evening's Fox News Watch, the columnist and New America Foundation fellow cited the news that GE Capital, a subsidiary of MSNBC's parent company GE, has received a $139 billion government loan guarantee.
Host Jon Scott opened this evening's show opened with a clip of Chris Matthews [in a story that NB was first to report], saying that he saw as his "job" making the Obama presidency a success. Pinkerton unloaded.
With General Motors in serious trouble, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Harry Reid, D-Nev., are making a push for the government to intervene and rescue the auto giant as they did with AIG. However, Francesco Guerrera, U.S. editor for the Financial Times, isn't so sure a GM failure would be as bad as some are letting on.
Guerrera appeared on CNBC's Nov. 10 "Power Lunch" to weigh the pros and cons of the newly revised AIG (NYSE:AIG) rescue package. He was asked if this type of government intervention should be offered for General Motors (NYSE:GM).
"That's what they say," Guerrera said. "I'm not sure I buy that. I think there'll be a lot of job losses if GM fails, but there's nothing systemic in the sense that if AIG goes or if, you know, one of the other banks goes - there'll be a ripple effect throughout not just the U.S. economy, but global financial markets. I don't see how you can make the systemic risk argument for a car company."