Cliff Mason is a senior writer at Mad Money. You may have heard of him before. He became famous and much mocked for pronouncing the iPhone a “babe magnet” on a video for theStreet.com. At the time his uncle, Jim Cramer leaped to his defence.
Now Mason is returning the favour. He says Cramer is being unfairly portrayed as a bull on Bear Stearns shortly before the firm had to be rescued by the Federal Reserve and JP Morgan Chase. The latest person to make the charge was Joel Lovell, who writes the “Men+Money” column for GQ. (We wrote about that here.)
“I’m comforted by the fact that last March, just days before Bear Stearns stock became worthless, Jim Cramer’s head nearly exploded off his shoulders, so intense was his conviction that his viewers should NOT. SELL. BEAR. But what I don’t understand is the hundreds of thousands of people who still tune in every night to hear what he has to say.”
I just want to take a moment to set the record straight, because almost any time I tell people what I do, they bring up this particular piece of misinformation.
On Tuesday, March 11, 2008, Jim answered an e-mail from a viewer who had a brokerage account at Bear Stearns. The viewer was worried that he would lose that money, something that did not happen to Bear’s depositors, but did eventually happen to those who kept their cash at Lehman Brothers.
Jim responded by telling the viewer not to pull his money, saying that Bear was “likely to be taken over.” And sure enough, JPMorgan Chase swooped in to the rescue that weekend. This was not a question about Bear Stearns the stock. I can understand why ordinary people might be confused, because, sure, Jim could have been clearer, although there wasn’t much time left in the segment. But I don’t get how a journalist who covers this stuff, like the guy at the Washington Post over the weekend, would make and perpetuate this mistake.
. But it would also be crazy to pull your deposits out of those banks. That’s all Jim was saying about Bear Stearns. He was trying not to cause a run on the darned investment bank. And in the end, he turned out to be right.
Mason, in his hurry to defend his uncle seems to have forgotten that he very loudly yelled “Bear is fine!” And the prediction about Bear getting acquired was only right because it was vague. No viewer would have ever expected the kind of rescue by JP Morgan and the Fed that occured.
But he does have a fair point. Cramer wasn’t saying to go long the stock.
Oh, and watch out, Obama. We have a feeling you might be the next to feel Cliff’s wrath.
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