26 Sep 2008

No More Jim Cramer!

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OK, I confess that I have been reading Jim Cramer’s analyses on CNBC, and I read his column in my wife’s New York magazine whenever I see them. But that all stops NOW. In the Sept. 29 issue of NY magazine, Cramer actually said this:

Still, a recovery from a storm this big is going to take time. I don’t see the current recession ending until the second half of 2009. Ironically, housing, which got us into this mess, could be one of the first sectors to recover, as cheap mortgage money and a dearth of new supply should lead to a bottom by June of next year.

OK it was that last sentence that made me blow up. How in the world can someone so casually make a prediction down to the month? And I’m pretty sure he’s not running a giant model of the economy, either.

In fairness, Cramer might have just meant, “…lead to a bottom sometime during the first half of 2009,” and that’s technically equivalent to what he actually wrote. Still, he should have worded it in this broad way, lest people focus in on that “by June” and attach unwarranted specificity.

This kind of thing always cracks me up when people ask me to forecast the price of gasoline out into the future. How in the frick do I know what gas will cost in June of 2009? And this isn’t embarrassing for me to admit–nobody knows what gas will cost in June 2009, and if someone says he does, he’s either a liar or delusional.

Now you can still say something, just to make the people happy; it’s like asking a doctor if the cancer will spread, and he just glibly says, “Nobody can know that.” So I do the best I can, talking about directions and hypotheticals, like, “If there’s a cap and trade, then…”

But for Cramer to just casually throw out the prediction that housing will bottom by June…nah, this guy is too smart to think he actually can know that. Sorta like Ann Coulter is clearly smart enough to know how ridiculous she is being, but she apparently decided the money and fame of that approach was worth it.

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