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Marketplace Scratch Pad

I didn’t forget about Jim Cramer

Scott Jagow Mar 13, 2009

I was definitely looking forward to watching Jon Stewart maul Jim Cramer on the Daily Show last night, but I got busy having a life, and I missed it. I just watched it now, and I have to say it was a more enlightening, thoughtful discussion that I had imagined it would be.

Stewart’s an impressive thinker, and extremely eloquent. To his credit, Cramer seemed to genuinely listen and consider Stewart’s viewpoint and even though Cramer’s position is indefensible, at least he wasn’t overly defensive. Just somewhat. Here’s one exchange:

Cramer: I didn’t think that Bear Stearns was going to evaporate overnight. I didn’t. I knew the people who ran it. I had always thought they were honest. That was my mistake. I really did. I thought they were honest. Did I get taken in because I knew them from before? Maybe to some degree….

Stewart: Honest or not, in what world, is a 35-1 leveraged position sane?

Cramer: The world that made you 30% year after year after year beginning from 1999 to 2007.

Stewart: But isn’t that part of the problem? Selling this idea that you don’t have to do anything… sit back and you’ll get to 10-20% of your money…. when are we gonna realize in this country that our wealth is work?

Stewart just really nailed it through the whole interview. He also took Cramer to task on what CNBC’s role should be:

“CNBC could be an incredibly powerful tool of illumination for people that believe that there are two markets. One that has been sold to us as long term … put your money in 401-ks, put your money in pensions and just leave it there. Don’t worry about it. It’s all doing fine.

Then there’s this other market, this real market that’s occurring in the back room where giant piles of money are going in and out and people are trading them and it’s transactional and it’s fast, but it’s dangerous, it’s ethically dubious and it hurts that long term market. And what it feels like to us (is that) we are capitalizing your adventure…. And that it’s a game that you know is going on but that you go on television as a financial network and pretend isn’t happening.”

You can watch the entire interview below. After that, if you’re still in the mood for some Cramer bashing, you can play Jim Cramer’s Crashteroids! It’s a Flash game in which Cramer tries to survive against his greatest enemies. Marketplace Money host Tess Vigeland sent me the link. She says her high score is $8560… “which I think might buy me a share of Berkshire Hathaway these days.”

By the way, my latest After the Bell podcast is out, which you can access here. This week, happy thoughts about the markets, the right kind of glasses for Citigroup’s latest news, and we try to find the smell of greed.

Enjoy your weekend.

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