Jim Cramer is a former hedge fund manager, and author. Currently he is the host of CNBC's Mad Money, and co-founder of TheStreet.com. He has also been a contributor to New York magazine and an occasional contributor to Time magazine. The man has always been know to speak his mind and during a NBC "Today" show appearance in October 2008 he stated "Whatever money you may need for the next five years, please take it out of the stock market. Right now. This week." Supposedly, this appearance was blamed for inciting panic-selling among regular American investors.
Last Wednesday, Cramer stated on a CNBC segment via The Street, "We are so on the hook to AIG. Stop Trading!" He added "That will prove to be an unbelievable black hole that will last forever. I don't know what was worse -- taking them over, or letting Lehman fall." As for buying AIG shares, Cramer was confident. "In no uncertain terms, that will never pay off," he said. He said he was seeing opportunities in the market as we pull back, but "AIG is not one of them."
Well, Cramer urged CNBC viewers the next day, on Thursday, to "hound" AIG employees, "everywhere they are," including making fun of them and pointing fingers at them. New CEO Edward Liddy was not amused, demanding an apology from Cramer, and even sent him a letter.
Edward M. Liddy
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
October 20, 2008
Mr. Jim Cramer
Dear Mr. Cramer,
I was deeply disappointed last Thursday when you urged your viewers to harass AIG employees, saying:
"We should hound them in the supermarket, we should hound them in the ball park, we should hound them everywhere they are. We should make fun of them and we should point fingers at them and we should tell them that you have no shame."
These comments are outrageous. I demand they be retracted and that you apologize to AIG's employees. It is one thing to criticize the executive leadership of AIG - that's fair commentary. But it is way out of bounds to incite people to confront and harass other AIG employees - hard working, dedicated people who are running good businesses and are committed to our success. The employees of AIG did not cause this mess, but they are paying for it - in diminished 401K savings and in some job losses as we sell companies to repay the Federal loan. The irony is that AIG employees did not cause this problem, but they will solve it. For that they deserve our praise and our gratitude.
I await your prompt response.
Edward M. Liddy
Personally, what I would like to say to Liddy on this matter, is the following:
Dear Mr. Liddy,
I think Cramer's comments were inappropriate and he should apologize for his unsympathetic statements towards your employees who have been through so much however, first have each employee and exec who attended the St. Regis "convention", each attendee from the Atlanta "convention", each attendee from the Europe hunting trip, and each employee from the Las Vegas golf outing send a written apology to the Oversight Committee for wasting the U.S. taxpayers money on parties first. Talk about being uncaring, and unsympathetic! I though Lehman Brothers was bad, but you Mr. Liddy and some of your employees, take the cake, eat the cake, and throw the empty plate to U.S. taxpayers expecting us to take out your trash. Talk about no shame and talk about outrageous actions? I don't think you are in any position to demand anything, since we the taxpayers OWN you, and YOU owe US for bailing your butts out.
As for YOUR employees 401(k)s and job losses which are unfortunate, what about all the non-AIG employees who lost money in their 401(k)s, and their job losses because of your company's failure affecting their employer or their lifetime savings? What about all the stockholders who lost money because of AIG, yet certain people who work for AIG profited at the same time? What about all the mortgage brokers who lied to potential homeowners, and now are paying the ultimate price? And we, the U.S. taxpayers who are paying for your parties, should thank your employees for saving AIG? Umm.. Hi! My name is reality, and I KNOW we haven't met yet. I know I'd like a thank you from every employee of AIG for saving their jobs since we the U.S. taxpayers are the only reason they still have a job.
As for paying back the Federal loan? The only reason you want to pay it back so quickly is because you don't like being regulated by the Feds, with all your company's dirty little secrets being made public.
And as for stating that AIG employees did not cause this mess? Are you going to be like Dick Fuld now, and blame everyone else for YOUR problems? Get a therapist, your denial is showing.
Why are you worrying about one man's opinion? Why are you even addressing this issue? Obviously your experience as a CEO, or rather lack of, didn't tell you to ignore this issue, as it would have gone away. Now you have done nothing but add fuel to the fire. Your attention should be focused, and only focused on getting your company back profitable and paying the U.S. taxpayers back, not insults and opinions. It's TV and ratings, you need to get some thicker skin, and consider the source. By acknowledging his statement, you only give him more power over the situation and you just gave him more ratings. I had never heard of Cramer before today, and now I plan to watch one show to see what the big deal is. You fell for the biggest media trick in the book, and he will profit for it.
While I admire and respect you protecting your employees, you need to think about the bigger picture, outside of AIG, and the potential effects that AIG can and has had on our society through their actions, both positive and negative. As the once infamous Schooner Tuna commercial stated "We're all in this together." I'd like you to take the challenge of taking off your blinders, coming down out of your office, and then walking the streets as a normal U.S. taxpayer and learn what it is really like for us.
Your continued arrogance will be your downfall.
Misery Index 2008