Book Review: Confessions of a Street Addict

I understand that this one might get some laughs and/or scoffs, but this is genuine.  I have written some in the past as to my feelings on Jim Cramer, but I fully admit that I am a total fan.  I like Cramer, in all his goofyness.  I have been wanting to read this book for a while now, not because I was so interested in Cramer’s life, but because I wanted to learn more about coming up on the Street and being an insider in a hedge fund.  While interesting in both of those areas, the book ended up being much more interesting than I ever thought throughout all of the chapters and topics.

Confessions of a Street Addict was Jim Cramer’s first major book (I think), although, he’s been writing on the stock market and investing for  years.  Cramer, who got his official start on Wall Street at Goldman Sachs and ran his hedge fund, Cramer Berkowitz, for a number of years, is most commonly known as the host of CNBC’s Mad Money.    He also founded TheStreet.com, about which the book discusses, and this happened to be some of the most interesting material therein, because I (like most people) had a clue as to all that went on around the creation and growth of the popular website and it’s perseverance through the dot-com bubble, the bursting of which took out much of the business’ competition.

In Confessions, Cramer starts off by quickly speaking to his childhood, and how he was practically obsessed with the markets, even as a young boy, making his father work late so that he could pick up the latest edition of the newspaper, which had the most up-to-date closing prices of the markets.  The obsession ebbed and flowed, ultimately blossoming again while Cramer was an undergrad at Harvard.  After his time running the Harvard Crimson and having some interesting experiences as a journalist in Florida and California, Cramer ultimately returned to get his degree at Harvard Law, which he paid for by his trading in the markets.  

A man after my own heart, Cramer spent more time trading than paying attention in class and he breezed through law school, graduating without a care where he stood in the class rankings, because he knew that he was never going to practice law. 

After law school, he got on with Goldman, the back story to which was interesting, but not necessary here, and he ultimately ended up running his own hedge fund for a decade, first with his wife and later with his friend and partner Jeff Berkowitz, who later took over the firm when Cramer retired.  Now, the stories about his time running the hedge fund were very interesting and very telling, in that there was a lot of information expressed in the book that one would likely never realize by just watching Cramer and his goofy antics on Mad Money.  This was good stuff, ultimately because there were a lot of similarties that I found between the Jim Cramer (at least the character in the book – who really knows how true it is) and myself.  I’m not saying that I’m like Cramer or trying to be something I’m not – I just got the impression that are some personality similarities, based on the information he gave about his personality in the book.

One thing I liked about Cramer’s story is that whether good, bad or indifferent, he was hungy and he always went for what he wanted.  While in law school, Marty Peretz had Cramer invest $500K for him, based on stock recommendations that he gave on his answering machine.  After losing a chunk of that money right away, Peretz didn’t eat his shorts; instead he told Cramer to go make it back, which made him even hungrier, ultimately allowing him to make more money for Peretz throughout their friendship than The New Republic owner ever would have otherwise.

Ultimately, the book takes the reader through TheStreet.com’s IPO and through the bursting of the dot-com bubble, which both the hedge fund and the website were able to not only live through, but they both thrived.  After realizing the pressure was exceeding absurd levels, even for him, Cramer retired from his hedge fund, deciding to go back full time to what he loved to do:  write about the markets. 

Cramer’s personality and intensity has no doubt gotten him into troubling situations over the years, but you got to give it to this guy for just being Cramer.  Call him a jerk, or arrogant, or annoying, but the guy knows his stuff, and even though he realizes that, he’s willing to admit when he screwed up and then he moves on.  So, do I like Cramer for that?  Yeah, and quite frankly, I’d like to see more Cramers in today’s media.  Further, he deserves the money he makes, in my opinion, and I’ll even do my part by buying his books and reading the rest of them to compare to this first one. 

Advertisements

Post a Comment

Required fields are marked *

*
*

%d bloggers like this: