Are you running scared of the stock market? Terrified of being steamrolled in the Wall Street casino following the financial market meltdown that crippled the world's economy? Jim Cramer, host of CNBC's "Mad Money" and author of numerous books on financial investing—including his latest Jim Cramer’s Get Rich Carefully—has two words for you: "Come back."
"There is so much opportunity that people are just missing it," a characteristically excitable Cramer tells Kirkus Reviews. "People need to come back—but they need to do it smartly."
Now, it may be difficult for some traumatized investors to look in the mirror after the Bear Stearns debacle and associated derivative swamp implosions, and agree that they, too, must shoulder at least some of the blame for their own losses. But that's exactly the kind of hard medicine (poison?) that Cramer is urging readers to swallow.
"I think they thought they were being careful, but they were not," Cramer says. "They thought they were being prudent if they bought blue chips. What they really needed was recognition that what is a blue chip changes."
Cramer says Get Rich Carefully is a departure from previous books, where he talked about the profitability of given stocks. This time around, the sometimes controversial investment guru who not long ago had a well-publicized dust-up with Daily Show host Jon Stewart is instead focusing on the nature of stocks themselves—and why they allegedly perform the way they do.
"A lot of people are totally mystified," Cramer says. "People don’t understand why a stock even moves, and I think this is my mission. I fully explain why a stock moves short-term and long-term, and how you can identify longer-term which stocks are going to go higher. And that’s really the essence of this new book."
Gone is the visage of the harried, apoplectic pitch man barely contained within the borders of many of Cramer's previous book covers. The Jim Cramer portrayed on the cover of Get Rich Carefully is a staid and relaxed figure clad in a sober dark jacket and tie.
"I'm trying to do something new," Cramer says. "I’m trying to expand how people look at the market."
Although he concedes that the economic meltdown and ensuing recession were "very bad," the chief marketing columnist for TheStreet.com and co-host of Squawk on the Street argues that too many investors became overly confident in seemingly tried-and-true stocks.
"I’m not saying that what is a blue chip one day is not a blue chip the other," Cramer explains. "But there’s a group of companies that have supplanted what your parents thought were blue chips. You may have thought that what you wanted to be in was McDonald’s—but you know what? Times and tastes have changed."
It's been some five years since Cramer's last book, Getting Back to Even. The author says that Get Rich Carefully took him a full two years to craft.
"I always [told my publishers] the same thing over and over again: When I have something to say—no matter when it occurs—that’s when I’ll write," Cramer says.
Despite the ample amount of screen time he still commands across the nation's television networks, Cramer maintains that books continue to be indispensable tools of communication.
"Books are everything," Cramer says. "As much as I want to teach on my [TV] shows, as much as I want to flesh things out...in the end, books are the only way to reach regular people. Books are not ephemeral. You can read a book over and over again. You have tremendous understanding because things are explained over the long term. Books are something that last."
In his latest offering, Cramer says he has broken with popular "orthodoxy" that envisions corporate titans as villains and instead focuses on 21 CEOs whom he likens to the best head coaches in the National Football League.
"I think that most people feel that CEOs are bad," Cramer says. "Meaning that they are overpaid and they don’t do enough for shareholders. And what I have discovered is that there are a ton of CEOs that are like that. But there are other CEOs devoting their lives to making you money. And when you’re on-the-record and off-the-record with these people, and you spend every single quarter with them, you really get a feeling that there are, frankly, some guys who are just fabulous at what they do."
Without copping to triggering one or two yellow flags on the field during the course of his long and successful career, the New Jersey resident does admit to fumbling the ball at least once or twice.
"I do not hide the mistakes that I’ve made," Cramer says. "I'm hoping people will learn from them. I have at times acted precipitously for a stock I really liked. But I’ve grown up a little bit."
Keeping with the football metaphor a bit longer, Cramer insists that investors must be able to "take pain to make a big gain" and not to "freak out" when Wall Street seemingly goes haywire.
"The willingness to take pain is so important," Cramer says. "We all fear things. Don't let your fears get to you."
Joe Maniscalco is a writer living in Brooklyn.