Sunday, March 15, 2009

My Letter to Jon Stewart and Jim Cramer

Jim Cramer (Mad Money, and Jon Stewart of Comedy Central went head-to-head late last week, and here is my letter to both networks in response):

I'm a huge fan of both shows. You entertain me. And I'm talking years here.

I'd like to think that both Jon Stewart and Jim Cramer are in this position, of collecting 2,000 comments on the blog immediately following the airing of their toe-to-toe battle interview, because they want to be. As willing, educated, brilliant and active participants in our democratic process and civil servants to the debate of the free market system. And, a little bit because they both love the limelight. As entertainers.

Certainly, both men have impressive resumes and historical measures of their respective brilliance. Big brains. There is no denying that. However, both of them failed to place blame on where Wall Street bumps into Main Street, and the Universe collapses on itself: Original Sin.

Isn't, to a certain extent, human nature to blame, in this current debacle? Aren't we all pleased when we find out a stock we bought yesterday went up 30% due to some unexpected news? And likewise, isn't a 7-year old selling lemonade just delighted when the heat index breaks 100 degrees and there is no other liquid to be found nearby? Aren't all of loyal Cramerica fans dedicated to the idea that with sane, thorough, fundamental analysis of stocks, you, too can profit handsomely with your investment dollars?

Don't we all like to laugh at Jon Stewart's brilliant rhetoric?

Yes, yes, and oh by the way--we're all a little greedy, too*. Who didn't appreciate their home increasing in value (an unsustainable) 20%, or their stock portfolio increasing four-fold over the same number of years? Nobody wants nothing for their work and labor. It's called Human Nature.

I believe that those who have more, should give more, and those who don't, can get help. I strongly believe Jim Cramer and Jon Stewart, deep in their hearts, feel the same way, ideologically.

However! There are very complex financial instruments out there, which beget complex financial markets. I only understand a tenth of it having worked on a trading floor in MARKET RISK MANAGEMENT. I was measuring Market Risk for equity derivative trading portfolios.. and.. guess what?! Traders are smart. Traders are sneaky. Traders like to WIN. And they like to make money. And.. add some overleveraged banks, not enough capital, mortgages defaulting and de-valuing assets across the board, credit seizing up, commerce halting, the People getting caught in the middle and... here we are.

Jon Stewart asked the excellent point-question: "What is our role as journalists, if not to reveal the very shenanigans going on behind the uninformed Public's back..if we know about them?"

Certainly, Jim Cramer is not the face of whom we blame. His network? Could they have done more?

One of my favorite quotes:

Integrity is what you do when nobody is watching.

What about when we are?

* Note: NOT that I blame what has happened in the current crisis on the People, per se, simply that it was too easy to allow current market conditions to be ripe for bankers/traders/etc. to reap the benefits of (us) it in the capital markets.


Jeanne March 16, 2009 at 3:16 AM  

Based on their track record, I don't think CNBC can claim any credibility as a financial news network, anymore than Fox or MSNBC can claim any as political news networks.

None have demonstrated even an attempt at objectivity, which is a cornerstone of journalism.

To your point, they're strictly entertainment. To try to make decisions based on the TV equivalent of talk radio is absurd.

Anonymous,  March 16, 2009 at 4:03 AM  

I got that line about integrity drilled into me during my years in the navy - I had a little flash back when a read it.

And I agree that greed most certainly had something to do with the meltdown - both on the corporate and personel level.

buffalodick March 16, 2009 at 7:29 AM  

Shame on borrowers who wanted more than they could afford. Shame on the lenders who gave it to them. They both got what they deserved, and a guy like me who paid his bills on time, at higher interest rates gets to pay for their behavior and bail-out...

septembermom March 16, 2009 at 7:55 AM  

Those two characters were interesting to watch as they tried to out talk each other. I enjoy watching both of them. I think Jon Stewart did raise a lot of good points. My hubby always watches the financial news channels. Why were we not clued in earlier?

Greed. Greed. Greed. It is like a plague destroying the American dream for so many good people in this country. Feels like all we can do is pray some days. Thanks for the great post :)

Anonymous,  March 16, 2009 at 9:24 AM  

I think integrity is also very much about what you do when people are watching. That's when you can make a difference.

mielikki March 16, 2009 at 10:26 AM  

Yes, I got the integrity thing in the Navy, too. And Greed is, unfortunately human nature...
It was very interesting to watch

Kim March 16, 2009 at 10:30 AM  

Thought provoking topic. I really do enjoy watching Jon Stewart. He's smart and funny - and he's not just trying to win favour.

FoN March 16, 2009 at 6:52 PM  

That was very well written. I think that John Stewart wiped the floor with Jim Cramer though!

Sprite's Keeper March 17, 2009 at 12:15 PM  

I saw that match up and both seemed to be enjoying it a bit, but Jon Stewart definitely made the kill when he challenged Kramer to fess up on what he knew versus what he was selling to the audience. They are both rolling in the attention, definitely.
You're right. A mirror would be needed to cast some blame. I live in "Ground Zero" as quoted by President Obama where foreclosed homes outnumber the occupied. And a lot of this stemmed from banks willing to make risky loans and people willing to sign the dotted line even though they knew full well they would never be able to swim should the waters flood. It takes two to tango. It doesn't matter anymore who brought who down. The fact is, they both went down. Great post!

Casey March 17, 2009 at 7:33 PM  

I think greed is the culprit in this whole financial mess. Unfortunately, the greedy ones continue to be greedy and the rest of us suffer.



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