Tuesday, May 14, 2002

I've always enjoyed James Cramer's market and trading comments on CNBC. He's an interesting character, especially when compared to the slicker TV folks usually surrounding him. But an article in today NY Times - Cramer Book Dispute Continues - drop-kicked me as to what a sleaze Cramer really was.

Let me say first, I used to do financial news with Dow Jones. Restrictions on what and how reporters and editors could trade in the markets were taken very seriously. The whole point of the job was to get information before "The Street" got word. If we traded on that information, we would have been fired in a heartbeat.

But Cramer, blurring the line between journalist and industry expert , obviously held himself to no such standards. From the article:

Mr. Cramer, who worked as a journalist and television commentator while managing money, kept up extensive contacts with the press as well, especially his good friends at CNBC. He writes in his book that he talked and shared ideas with reporters, and for a time he said he talked almost daily with CNBC's Maria Bartiromo, who called to find out about analysts' reports that had not yet become public. If, in the course of his contacts, he ever managed to guess the nature of a story from a reporter's questions, he acknowledged that he would trade ahead of the news. "Yeah, I did that game," he said. "It's found money."

No, it's not found money. It's illegal. Perhaps insider trading. At the very least, Cramer should be barred from any other journalistic position, since he's proven that he's an opportunist who will trade on unpublished information.

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