James Joseph Cramer is an American television personality and author. He is the host of Mad Money on CNBC and an anchor on Squawk on the Street. A former hedge fund manager, founder, and senior partner of Cramer Berkowitz, Cramer wrote several books, including Confessions of a Street Addict (2002), Jim Cramer's Real Money: Sane Investing in an Insane World (2005), Jim Cramer's Mad Money: Watch TV, Get Rich (2006), and Jim Cramer's Get Rich Carefully (2013). He co-founded TheStreet.com, which he wrote for from 1996 to 2021. Cramer hosted Kudlow & Cramer from 2002 to 2005.
Education and early career
In 1977, Cramer graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College with a Bachelor of Arts in government. While at Harvard, Cramer was the president and editor-in-chief of The Harvard Crimson. Additionally, Cramer was a National Merit Scholar.
After college, Cramer was an entry-level reporter, making $15,000 per year. Beginning March 1, 1978, Cramer worked for the Tallahassee Democrat in Tallahassee, Florida, where he was one of the first people to cover the Ted Bundy murders since he lived only a few blocks away. Then-executive editor Richard Oppel said: "Cramer was like a driving ram. He was great at getting the story." He subsequently worked for the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner writing obituaries. During this time, his apartment was robbed and he lost everything, forcing him to live out of his car for 9 months. He also worked for Governor of California Jerry Brown. Cramer was one of the first reporters at American Lawyer.
In 1984, Cramer received a Juris Doctor degree from Harvard Law School. Cramer started investing in the stock market while he attended law school. He made enough from trading to cover tuition. Cramer began promoting his holdings by leaving stock picks on his answering machine. While at Harvard, alumnus Michael Kinsley introduced him to The New Republic owner Martin Peretz, who contacted Cramer to write a book review. After first profiting from the stock picks he heard on Cramer's answering machine, Peretz gave Cramer $500,000 to invest. In two years, Cramer made $150,000 for Peretz. During his years at Harvard Law School, Cramer worked as a minor research assistant for Alan Dershowitz. He assisted Dershowitz's campaign to acquit alleged murderer Claus von Bülow even though Cramer believed von Bülow was "supremely guilty."
In 1984, Cramer worked in sales and trading at New York investment bank Goldman Sachs.
Cramer was admitted to the New York State Bar in 1985 but did not practice. His license to practice law was suspended on April 2, 2009, for failure to renew his registration.
In 1987, Cramer left Goldman Sachs and started a hedge fund, Cramer & Co. (later Cramer, Berkowitz & Co.). The fund operated out of the offices of Michael Steinhardt. Early investors included friend and classmate Eliot Spitzer, Steve Brill, and Martin Peretz. Cramer raised $450 million in $5 million increments and received a fee of 20% of the profits he generated.
Cramer claims to have sold all of his stocks on the Friday before Black Monday (1987). From 1988 to 2000, Cramer claims to have had only one year of negative returns – 1998, a year when the S&P 500 Index rose 29%. The underperformance in 1998 led to significant investor withdrawals. In 1999, the fund returned 47% and in 2000, it returned 28%, beating the S&P 500 Index by 38 percentage points. Cramer claims to have produced a 24% average annual return over 14 years and "routinely taken home $10 million a year and more." However, his results have been disputed.
In 2001, Cramer retired from managing the hedge fund. The fund was then taken over by his former partner, Jeff Berkowitz.
Cramer was also an "editor at large" for SmartMoney magazine and was accused of unethical practices when he made a $2 million personal gain after buying stocks just before his recommendation article was published.
In 1996, Cramer and Peretz launched TheStreet.com, a financial news and investment website. In August 2019, TheMaven acquired the company for $16.5 million.
Cramer was a frequent guest commentator on CNBC in the late 1990s.
From 2002 to 2005, Cramer co-hosted Kudlow & Cramer (first called America Now) with Larry Kudlow.
Mad Money with Jim Cramer first aired on CNBC in 2005. The stated goal of the show is to provide people engaging in do-it-yourself investing with "the knowledge and the tools that will empower you to be a better investor". Cramer is required to disclose any positions he holds in a stock that is discussed on the show and is not allowed to trade any security he has spoken about on CNBC for five days following the broadcast.
Other media appearances
Cramer hosted a one-hour radio show, Jim Cramer's Real Money, until December 2006, which spawned Mad Money.
On November 13, 2005, Dan Rather interviewed Cramer on 60 Minutes. Among the topics of discussion was Cramer's past at his hedge fund, including his violent temper.
In 2005, Cramer appeared as himself in two episodes of Arrested Development. He announced that he had upgraded Bluth Company stock to a "Don't Buy" from a "Triple Sell," and then said that the stock was not a "Don't Buy" anymore, but a "Risky."
Cramer has also made appearances on Today, NBC Nightly News, Live with Regis and Kelly, Cheap Seats, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Late Show with David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel Live! in February 2008 and as a guest judge on The Apprentice in January 2007 and was interviewed by Jon Stewart on The Daily Show in March 2009 (see Jon Stewart–Jim Cramer conflict).
Cramer also appeared in the 2008 motion picture Iron Man spoofing Stark Industries on his show Mad Money, and he also appeared in the movie Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. He also claims to have consulted for the original Wall Street movie by telling the filmmakers how he would get through to Gordon Gekko.