Booyah! . . . oops

Kai Ryssdal Mar 20, 2007

VIDEO: Jim Cramer in interview

KAI RYSSDAL: If you listen to us, you might also tune in every now and then to the cable business channel CNBC. And you might have heard of a guy named Jim Cramer. He hosts one of CNBC’s popular programs. It’s called Mad Money, where Cramer gives out free stock advice. And he’s got some credibility — he used to run a successful hedge fund.

But Cramer’s known for having a big mouth. And he may have said too much. Cramer discussed some of his favorite trading tactics in an online video posted on, comments that give a pretty good insight into a side of Wall Street that not too many people talk about.

JIM CRAMER: You know a lot of times when I was short at my hedge fund and I was position short, meaning I needed it down, I would create a level of activity beforehand that could drive the futures. It doesn’t take much money.

In other words, moving the stock price through calculated trades.

Some of those tactics might be legal. Others probably aren’t. Here’s another clip from the same online video.

CRAMER: Now you can’t foment, that’s a violation of . . . you can’t foment. You can’t create yourself an impression that the stock’s down. But you do it anyway ’cause the SEC doesn’t understand it, so you . . . I mean it’s . . . that’s the only sense that I would say this is illegal. But a hedge fund that’s not up a lot really has to do a lot now to save itself so. This is different from what I was talking about at the beginning where I would be be buying the Qs and stuff. This is actually just blatantly illegal. But when you have six days and your company may be in doubt because you’re down, I think it’s really important to foment if I were one of these guys.

It’s not completely clear whether Cramer himself engaged in those tactics. We called to ask, but he hadn’t called us back by air time.

But Duke University law professor Jim Cox says Cramer’s detailed discussion might just bring a knock on the door from the SEC.

JIM COX: Given the ongoing level of interest in abusive practices in markets, particularly by hedge fund managers, et cetera, it should pique the interest of the SEC.

So it might help that Cramer’s a Harvard Law School graduate.

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