Sloppy stock picks and childish temper tantrums are nothing new to Jim Cramer.
The host of CNBC’s “Mad Money” alienated co-workers with his erratic stock trades and furniture throwing as far back as 2000, when he was working for the hedge fund he started after leaving Goldman Sachs.
And it may have been the spark that led the Wall Street pro out the door of Cramer Berkowitz, the firm he had founded 13 years earlier, according to Todd Harrison, in his new memoir.
At the end of 2000, for example, Cramer’s frenetic trading style dinged the double-digit profits the firm was making from correctly calling the dot-com bust.
IN an effort to protect its gains, the partners had agreed to dramatically limit their trading. But positions in Microsoft, Morgan Stanley and Brocade Communications started showing up in the hedge fund’s portfolio thanks to Cramer, which frustrated the partners, said Harrison, a partner and head of trading at Cramer Berkowitz at the time.
“He would haphazardly make trades,” said Harrison, who has written an autobiography that includes an insider’s account of Cramer’s antics.
“We’d go from hugging each other to screaming at each other,” Harrison recalls of his days with Cramer, which make up five of the book’s 18 chapters.
“It was so intense every day,” he said.
The tale echoes the similarly controversial tantrums and stock picks made on his show in the last year.
Cramer told viewers to buy shares in bank Wachovia after its CEO, Bob Steele, who worked with Cramer at Goldman, appeared on his show and stretched the truth about the strength of the bank’s real-estate portfolio. Cramer later apologized for the “buy” recommendation.
The cable pundit also found himself apologizing for controversial comments as well, including a hair-raising episode in which he told viewers to harass AIG employees amid concerns late last year that the company was spending money on retreats and executive bonuses even as it sought a government bailout.
The 54-year-old Wall Street veteran was also blasted on national TV by “The Daily Show” host Jon Stewart for his bullish call on Bear Stearns just as the firm was about to crater.
In his recently completed book, “Memoirs of a Minyan,” of which he is releasing chapters through his Web site Minyanville.com, Harrison writes about a memorable Cramer meltdown after one tech-sector buy, on Brocade Communications, resulted in the hedge fund losing a modest amount of money.
Keyboards were being smashed, “keys were flying, spit was flying,” and Cramer was yelling like a madman, said Harrison. Efforts to calm him down only resulted in more aggression, including Cramer accusing Harrison of not caring whether the firm made money, he said.
Fed up, Harrison got up to leave, which prompted Cramer to throw a water bottle at him.
That night, Harrison told Cramer’s long-time partner in the firm, Jeff Berkowitz, that he wouldn’t be back the following year if Cramer remained at the hedge fund. Other staffers were fed up as well, Harrison says in the as-yet-unpublished manuscript, which chronicles his journey from rich Wall Street pro to struggling small business owner.
Within a week of the Brocade tirade, Cramer retired from the firm. Harrison insists he doesn’t know for sure what led to Cramer’s departure from the hedge fund and that he only has his suspicions.
“Everything I talk about is the truth in how I see it in my eyes,” he says.
And in his eyes, the cable TV personality was an emotional “roller coaster” who made life exhausting for everyone around him.
Harrison’s new book shows Cramer’s good sides, too, including his impulse to help people. When Harrison found out his long-lost dad was homeless and in jail in Hawaii, for example, Cramer immediately told him to take care of his family — markets be damned.
AND when Harrison re turned from the same trip grappling with word of his dad’s mental illness, Cramer — who is open about his own diagnosis with bipolar disorder — was helpful in explaining the disease, Harrison told The Post. “Jim is very complex,” he added.
Cramer declined to comment, except to say that if The Post wants “the straight story,” it should turn to his 2003 memoir, “Confessions of a Street Addict.”
In the book, Cramer mentions his erratic behavior and his departure from Cramer Berkowitz.
“I had broken enough furniture and monitors and keyboards to last a lifetime. More than a lifetime in fact. As a forty-five-year-old hedge-fund manager, I had already overstayed my actuarial table. Time to get out before the game killed me. Time to get out before I killed someone else.”
–Marc Benioff, the multi-billionaire CEO of SalesForce, appears on CNBC and absolutely destroys the capitalist narrative of the hosts, including Jim Cramer, making the case for a new capitalism that considers all stakeholders, including the planet
Jim Cramer pumps stocks and argues not do be so cautious about buying.