Updated on 01.21.07

Jim Cramer’s Cult of Personality

Trent Hamm

Jim CramerYou almost can’t avoid that face, can you? He’s on three times a day on CNBC hosting Mad Money, plus his book Jim Cramer’s Real Money, featuring his smiling face on the cover, is almost ubiquitous if you go anywhere near the personal finance section of a bookstore. If you’re concerned about your money and seek advice on it, chances are you’ve seen his face plenty of times in the last couple of years.

I make no claims whatsoever about the strength of his stock picks; one should always research their stock picks and not simply blindly follow the advice of others. Nor do I have any comments about his temper issues (besides the fact that they kind of scare me when he starts going crazy on television); those are for him to work out.

What intrigues me about Jim Cramer is the cult of personality that has grown up around him. There are dozens of sites out there that focus on little else but either lauding or criticising this man, whereas there is significantly less attention focused on other stock pickers. Obviously, the difference is Cramer’s persona, that of a caffeine-fueled raging maniac shouting out stock tips and investment advice while storming around on the set hitting sound effect buttons.

What about this persona appeals to people? I am particularly curious about this since Cramer’s topic is personal finance, an issue that usually ties itself to calmness and careful study, not ranging around like a bull in a china closet screaming at viewers. From a non-investor standpoint (take my nephew, for example), Jim Cramer comes off as some sort of lunatic; Mad Money is the only investment show he’ll pay any attention to because of Cramer’s antics.

I guess that alone reveals the truth of the matter: the real appeal is not in the investment advice, but in the entertainment factor. Most listeners and followers of Jim Cramer are not actually tuning in for investment advice. Instead, they’re tuning in to watch his antics. Maybe they’ll remember a ticker symbol or two to look up later, but mostly Jim Cramer is there to entertain. This explains the “cult of personality” around him; he’s like a stock broker version of Britney Spears.

As for me? I’ll take the hour that Cramer is on the air and use it to do my own financial research and writing, perhaps while being entertained by listening to a record by The Shins. As for his book, it’s actually on my reading list, but as for being a member of the “Jim Cramer Army,” count me out.

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  1. BxCapricorn says:

    I’ve watched his show here and there and I’ve been surprised at how strange it is compared to his contribution to thestreet.com. He is very candid in his analysis of a market, stock, or trend and his insights help me to better gage my own reactions to the daily stock reports.

  2. Jeff says:

    I wouldn’t say that Jim Cramer’s Mad Money show on CNBC is about personal finance at all. It’s strictly about picking stocks. Suze Orman is CNBC’s personal finance guru, and if you watch them both you see a very clear difference between the two. I like Cramer’s show, but I don’t watch it on a regular basis, because I am not a very active trader and I tend to buy in the areas of my expertise, and not Cramer’s or anyone else’s.

  3. Greg says:

    Jim Cramer has to come up with several new stock picks every night. Certainly, he doesn’t have the same conviction in each one of his picks. Don’t be the sad clown who buys CWTR. Apply the same weight to all the picks and you’re bound to lose out to some arb hedgie. Why are so many people complaining about how Cramer is a fraud and a phony when they don’t know half the truth? Some enterprising statisticians at stocktagger have come closer to conclusive evidence than most.

  4. JohnB says:

    I think the biggest business strategy today for anyone on tv or in the media is to create a cult of personality and watch the cash roll in.

    -Suze Orman
    -Robert Kiyosaki


    They all follow the same strategy of…you either passionately love them, or hate them. They are way out there as lightning rods. They’re so polarizing, you can’t ignore them.

    The ones that are passionately loyal (hypnotized?) will buy anything they sell (look at the stuff Oprah sells…The Secret, and new age pyscho babble).

    If you examined cults and these cults of personality, is there really much difference?

  5. John Singer says:

    Some more of Jim Cramer’s stock performance on Mad Money for your reading pleasure – http://www.stocktagger.com/2007/05/jim-cramer-takeover-targets-performance.html

  6. Cheryl says:

    Of course! It’s a gimmick.

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