I read this book after reading Maier's account of working at Cramer's hedge fund, "Trading with the Enemy". While Maier's book is not an in-depth detailed book, it projects Cramer as an egotistical tyrannical trader. Reading this book for a comparison, you can believe both sides of the story. Cramer recounts many of the same stories and they are remarkably similar but from different perspectives. For example, they both wrote about the birthday party where Cramer became extremely intoxicated and puked on the guests. Maier describes this as another example of Cramer's poor manners and ego. Cramer describes the bad day he had had and where he was mentally that had him over drink and embarrass his family. If anything, I was surprised that an egomaniac like Cramer could admit to any shortcomings. Many "Masters of the Universe" can't.
Cramer doesn't strike me as a charismatic guy. But you have to be impressed with where he started and where he ended up. Maybe his tactics were questionable. But to compete in the money arena with the fortunes at stake, it is impressive that he was able to even be on the field and favorably compete at least for a few years.
There are two significant relationships in the book I feel compelled to mention. First the investor who Cramer met who not only invested but recommended investors. This also turned out to be the relationship that Maier knew to get his job. A partnership was formed to set up TheStreet.com and somehow in the personnel problems of the venture, Cramer had a falling out with his favored investor that appeared to eventually leading to the shutdown of the hedge fund. You can sense from hearing Cramer's side that there is another side to the story. Cramer doesn't place blame but you can sense that he probably upset many people in his new business venture. It is an interesting case study listening to the different CEOs that are hired and how in Cramer's opinion they ruined the business.
Also, Cramer talks extensively about the relationship with his wife. She was also a stock trader and at different points in his career, she comes back to assist with trading. This part of the book shows just how emotional and psychological trading can be. Cramer would be a tough guy to live with and being married to another trader who understood the environment and the egos involved would make for a volatile relationship. I'd like to know more of the dynamics of that relationship but I suspect she is a real saint, as it appears to work well.
In summary, this book gives some background on what it is like in the rough and tumble world of Wall Street during a very unique trading period. Cramer is a self-promoter who successfully promoted himself into a high profile media job and therefore has some celebrity status. But the real story is the egos of people in this business and what they have to do to be successful and how they can live with some of their egotistical tendencies
on January 6, 2003
Jim Cramer is not a saint. He is impatient, domineering, egotistical, and almost certainly there are other unflattering things you could say about him. Yet he is a true rarity in my mind because he tells you he is all of those things repeatedly in his own autobiography. He does a fantastic job of honestly outlining the major events of his life. He acknowledges the things he has done well but spends far more time detailing his excesses and failings as well as being generous in giving credit for his success to others.
What makes this book so interesting is that it is neither a tearful apology nor a chest-thumping self congratulation. Cramer matter of factly details his journey to success as well as the toll it took on his personal life including his utter insensitivity in dealing with his family.
The passages dealing with His wife alone are worth the price of the book. The woman is nothing short of amazing both as the "Trading Goddess" that truly lives up to her name as well as the woman who puts up with a workaholic husband that is virtually never around when she needs him.
All in all, this is a fascinating book that anyone would do well to read.
on April 12, 2005
I'm not mad about Jim Cramer and I guess I'll never be. His brash, arrogant, loudmouth way of commenting on different business or even political issues on tv, whether it's on "Mad money", "Kudlow and Cramer", "Squawk box", "Good morning, America" or any other television show he's ever been on can get on my nerves sometimes. As a matter of fact, it's not so much his comments rather than his behaviour, his body language and his way of making a point that grate on me.
But he is one of the very few investors/traders that I have ever heard say "I was wrong about this stock or this company, and I don't have any problems admitting it", and I give him credit for that. The guy seems, if not honest, at least sincere to me. And I guess brashness, arrogance, sincerity, his loud mouth and the fact that he craves public attention make of Jim Cramer a highly colourful, flamboyant character. I'm always interested in what he has to say, even if I don't agree with him: sometimes, when he's on tv, the guy can be downright funny in his own way!
And so, not very enthusiastically I picked up this book and began reading it on a rainy weekend. Contrary to some of the readers who have posted reviews here at Amazon.com, I didn't really expect to learn any valuable trading methods or technical stuff, since the book's title is "Confessions" and not "Methods". No, as a matter of fact, when I think about it, I did learn something original. Cramer's idea of visiting department stores to find the next big thing and asking the right questions to the store clerks was very amusing to me.
This turned out to be a very honest, sincere and interesting book indeed. I was amazed by a few things in particular though:
1-Dedication, hard work and brains do pay in life. But that's not always enough. Sometimes you have to be lucky too. And Cramer was lucky, and he still is. His luck is called Karen Backfisch, and he is honest and humble enough to admit it. I mean, how many times did she bail the guy out? Reading the "Crisis in 1998" chapter, I almost felt I personally lived every infinitesimal instant of that crazy October 8, 1998 with Mr Cramer. Where would he be now, had the trading goddess not returned to the desk just for that day? "Hey, chum, looking glum!"... Sometimes all you need is a divine intervention.
2-I would have never thought a guy so successful in making money for himself and others could be so naive and blind as a bat in his relationships with business partners or close friends. That Ravi Desai story is quite revealing in this regard. It lead to Cramer's falling out with the guy who started it all for him, Marty Perez, and that too is unbelievable. Once again, his wife seemed to understand relationships and sense betrayal and disloyalty much better than he did.
3-I simply couldn't believe how unhappy and miserable this man was! I mean the guy almost had no life, he was constantly yelling and screaming, smashing cell phones and keyboards, calling people names; he misses his sister's wedding and talks about call positions on the phone with his mother lying dead in front of him... Just how miserable can you be? I think Howard Kurtz resumes it very well in his book: "It's amazing that a man so wealthy and successful can still be so manic and miserable!"
4-Again, I wasn't disappointed by the lack of trading methods or technical issues in this book. One little remark though: I thought cutting your losses short and being ok with some losses from time to time were "generally accepted trading principles" in the trading/speculating/investing world. Well, oddly enough, these two don't seem to be Cramer's principles. The guy takes losses personally, small and big ones, and he seems driven by emotions almost all the time. I thought that was something every trader tries to avoid. But then again, I guess that's ok. Mr Cramer has made millions over the years, so he must have had a bunch of other golden rules.
Many people couldn't wait (and I guess they still can't) to see Jim Cramer go to jail. Good Lord, people, you only have to blame yourself if you did poorly in the market during the last years. Cramer was pumping stocks he owned on various shows? He wrote "it's time to dump everything" in his recent column? He said he loved this company and hated that other stock during his last appearance on tv? So what, quit listening to him and start thinking independently! What do you think the analysts at Goldman, Merrill, Fidelity or Schwab have been doing over the years? Their buy/hold/sell recommandations can move the market, but sometimes the stocks don't go in the direction they expected or predicted them to go. Should they go to jail too?
on May 17, 2006
Jim Cramer. The name comes up again and again. Thestreet.com pulses with his rants, CNBC prominently features him, and even sites like the venerable Motley Fool write articles about him. What's the story? Is he a wild hack, or a shrewd investor and advisor?
This book answers some of those questions, and answers a whole lot more. It starts when he graduates from college, and follows him through journalism, law school, and through the investment world, culminating when he hangs up his hedge fund at the peak of success. He didn't get too far from the lifestyle though, as you can tell from his omnipresent, uh, presence.
I didn't like him going in, but the book made me look at him in a new light. There are so many lessons, and so much truth in this book that I have to give it my highest recommendation. Even if you don't agree with Cramer's analysis and investing style, you should read this book! I'm a religious listener to his Real Money podcast, and though it makes Ben Graham roll over in his grave, this guy has done it all, and genuinely wants to help people make money. That's at least partially because I think he wants recognition as a guru- he makes money from thestreet.com, but he doesn't need it. If all he wanted was money, he'd still be at his hedge fund.
If this book teaches nothing else, it proves that the average person sitting at home has no hope of competing with hedge funds as a day trader. They have too much info and control too much money. You have no chance of beating professional (i.e. Wall Street)day traders at their game. Not that there aren't other ways of beating the street- it's just that you are inevitably scooped if you ever think you're making a move on folks when it comes to trading (vs. investing).
And, it's a good story. This book gets the seal of approval.
on October 12, 2003
James J. Cramer, opinionated and bellicose founder of the Street.com and hedge fund manager distills his fire-breathing personality and stock-market enthusiasm and serves it up in this riveting and compulsively readable tell-all of Cramer's life and times on Wall Street.
Cramer rips through his early life as a young Pennsylvania kid fascinated with stocks, zips through his years as an undergrad and burgeoning journalist at Harvard, shoots through his days as a rookie reporter at the L.A. Herald Examiner and his nights sleeping in a battered Ford Fairmont---and by page 14, we're already knee-deep in Cramer's passion, the stock market.
Cramer writes engagingly and keeps up a roaring pace, and reading his material is like being ensconced inside the guy's feverish, always calculating head. It's about as close as most will come to having a seat at a hedge-fund trading desk, and whether you're just interested in the Market or have years of experience, you'll find "Confessions" a tasty and addicting read.
The writing is amazingly candid, and the most refreshing thing about "Confessions", apart from the fact that it's rippingly good fun and fine writing, is Cramer's honesty. For all his bluster and arrogance, and for all his consumptive attention to outperforming the indexes and his rivals (and for better than 13 years, his hedge fund Cramer Berkowitz did just that) Cramer is willing to accept the lion's share of the blame here. Who threw bottled water and telephones at the heads of his henchmen on bad trading days? Who pancicked and wrote a capitulatory "get out NOW!" article on TheStreet.com on October 8th, 1998, just as the worst had occurred and the markets were beginning the roaring rally that would not end until 2000? Who, surprisingly, had abolutely no clue what was going on in the company he had poured his name and his money into, and didn't have any kind of feel for the circus of the coming IPO?
Cramer, Cramer, and Cramer. There are really three Jim Cramers in "Confessions": Cramer the trader, Cramer the stock-market commentator and journalist, and Cramer the dot-com businessman and New Economy darling. Guess which "Cramer" gets him in the most trouble?
But let's cut to the chase: "Confessions of a Street Addict" is loads of fun and a wild perch to look out on what has been a real revolution in the financial markets; Cramer's honesty, experience, wide-ranging connections and candor make this the funniest and most introspective book on Wall Street since Mike Lewis wrote "Liar's Poker"---and hey, Lewis even has a cameo role in "Confessions", in which he's credited with coming up with the name "TheStreet" for the company that became TheStreet.com.
That's just one character in a roster that looks like Who's Who of Wall Street, 1982-2003: Cramer meets up, socializes, trades and schemes with Robert Rubin, Roger Ailes, Joe "The Big Kahuna" Kernan, David "The Brain" Faber, and Mark Haynes.
He crosses swords with Barron's Alan Abelson and Money's Frank Lalli, and engages in the time-honored Wall Street passtime of making fun of the corrupt Dan Dorfmann. During his Harvard Law years, he works as a research grunt for high-powered defense attorney Alan Dershowitz, putting together briefs on the Klaus von Bulow case (and, apparently, played by "some Indian guy" in the movie "Reversal of Fortune"). He gets interviewed by Oliver Stone's research henchmen when he's a salesman at Goldman Sachs, and, according to Cramer, serves as Stone's inspiration for getting Buddy Fox in to meet Gordon Gekko in "Wall Street". He even opens his uber-restrictive hedge fund up for redemptions when a major client, Elliot Spitzer (then running for Attorney General of New York), asks to withdraw some funds to fuel his campaign, and suffers a nearly disastrous run on the fund that almost swamped him.
But the real attraction of "Confessions" is the way Cramer weaves his life and career into the seminal events that have defined modern Wall Street and moved us through a financial revolution, and we get a trench-level tour of the really seismic events: the 1987 Black Monday crash, buying into the 1991 Iraqi war, the implosion of Long Term Capital Management, the Asian Contagion and Russian collapse that nearly ended a 16-year old Bull Market, and the stock bubble that defined the twilight years of the "New" Economy.
Having read "Confessions", I thank God for a man like Jim Cramer: it shows me our hard-charging capitalist system is still working if it can produce a man like him. Cramer's chief virtue is that he says what's on his mind, an attribute, noble as it is, that got him in trouble in the SmartMoney event that he chronicles. In a way, Cramer is like Wall Street's answer to G. Gordon Liddy, a man who says and does what he pleases, and damn the torpedoes.
And Cramer is, was, and always will be a tireless and funny stock promoter, and his enthusiasm is infectious: if you aren't already gunning for equities and watching that ticker, you will be after you read this book---just be careful to take the lessons herein to heart.
"Confessions of a Street Addict" is a high-octane shot of raw adrenaline and compulsively addicting, and provides a 20 year ride inside the mind of a premier hedge fund manager---for that alone, it's worth the price of admission.
I wrote a review of this before and it disappeared so hopefully this one will appear. My husband and I took turns reading this book aloud to each other, which meant we spent basically a day in front of a roaring fireplace, snowed in and riveted by the memoirs of a guy who defied normal human behavior.
First off, how many kids start off in life fascinated by the financial section of the newspaper, let alone making pretty shrewd jusdgments of which stocks would be wise investments? How many try to get their fellow students to play "the stock market game" (he didn't succeed in getting them to do so in spite of his game attempts). How many grow up and get a Harvard law degree and chuck it to work on Wall Street, grueling by most people's standards, high stress, high risk, etc?
What struck me about this book were several things:
1. Cramer is a far different person within the confines of a book than he may appear on tv. Yeah, he admits to craxy behavior, workaholism, talking business while on vacation and even during the delivery of one child...but at least he isn't there shouting and sweating and leaving the impression he is about to have a heart attack, right there, on air. Yes, he admits to having tantrums, trashing keyboards, throwing bottled water at people, etc. But hey, he is at least admitting this!
2. His wife is the woman behind hin and perhaps the major reason for his success, since she pulled him out of a major tailspin..according to his account. Either he is a very savvy husband or he is wise enough to give credit where it is due.
3. He finally wakes up and realizes the costs of his behavior, after alienating a good friend (they make peace afterwards), talking business during a funeral, etc.
If you are buying this book to learn the details of trading and Cramer's "method" you'll have to read between the lines. But this didn't matter to us. Take one excellent writer, some superb anecdotes, tons of humor and some moments that give a whole new meaning to the words "risk tolerance"...and you have a wonderful book, perfect for even those who think they'd never want to read about a guy in the financial/ hedge fund business.
And yes, we have started perusing the financial sections of the papers more closely. So there's that, too.
on July 20, 2002
Look, here's the deal. If you want to learn how to trade, this isn't the book for you (nor does it claim to be). But if you're a pretty savvy trader with a burning desire to learn all you can about the Market, there is a lot of "inside baseball" here. You'll pick up many subtleties about the economy, the market, and the inner workings of Wall Street that WILL help your trading. I know I did.
If you're a Cramer-Hater, you'll love the book because he fesses up to his many flaws and you'll feel vindicated for despising him. You will, of course, then log onto Amazon and write a lousy review because it just kills you to think that Jim Cramer might make a buck from his book. If you're a Cramer-Lover, you'll enjoy this book immensely because it's vintage Cramer-you've gotta take the bad with the good. I came away with the impression that he is his own worst critic-although from the vitriolic reviews I've read here, I'm going to re-think that conclusion. But love him or hate him, if you trade in today's market (or if you blew out in 2000 and want to know where you went wrong), you need to read this book. No responsible trader or market watcher should ignore any book written by someone like Jim Cramer. After all, this isn't a popularity contest, it's about learning as much as you can about your craft. And even if you aren't a trader, this book is an entertaining read because Wall Street has just become too big to ignore.
This book is what it claims to be: the confessions of a "street addict." I stayed up past midnight to finish it, and I trade from the West Coast. I will also read it again.
on November 21, 2006
Confessions of a Street Addict offers a glimpse into the seedy world of Wall St. not seen on CNBC. If you've seen Boiler Room, you know what I'm talking about. The pressure in the finance world is inhuman. Consider: the amount of money that flows through New York is measured in the trillions. Consider: on a down day, Bill Gates's net worth is subtracted by billions. When he's at a cocktail party and he's asked about his wealth, he can answer, "Oh, 40 billion, give or take a few billion." Yeah, literally.
Stakes are so high, that if you're involved in that culture, you quit by the time you're 35, either insanely rich or completely bankrupt. Wall St. is the ultra modern jungle and battlefield, where its warriors wear Armani instead of chain mail, and wield Bloombergs intead of battle axes. Companies beating analyst earnings estimates during fiscal quarters is like winning battles at Gettysburg or Normandie. And epic characters emerge, like Yahoo, who survived the dot com slaughter, or Long Term Capital, a bohemoth hedge fund that nearly crashed the market after losing a series of risky bets.
It's a competitive arena, and in such an environment, like all its other forms (be it with pens or swords), stories and legends emerge. And Jim Cramer, involved in the thick of it during the 80s, 90s, and 00s, tells it as such. Cramer takes the reader from his formative years as a Harvard Law student struggling to rub two pennies together for stock trades, to his high pressured hedge fund that netted 25% annual returns. Along the way, there are adventures involving Goldman Sachs Group, Rupert Murdoch, an alcoholic CEO he hired for his startup [...], and his Trading Goddess wife. It is a riveting tale set with the financial capital of the world as its backdrop and brilliant, motivated minds as its ensemble cast. I couldn't put the book down; it was the best thing I've read in a long time.
Love him or hate him, Jim Cramer is one hell of a passionate guy. He shoots from the hip first, and asks questions later. He routinely throws water bottles and chairs and smashes keyboards into smithereens. But he also looks out for the little guy, because he's been in the dumps, and he knows how unfair the cut-throat world can be. He paid his hedge fund employees bonuses in the millions to compensate for his manic style. In short, he has the perfect bi-polar-esque personality for Wall Street, and the succint ability to translate it into words. There are no concrete financial advice in the book. If that's what you're looking for, get his other book, Real Money: Sane Investing in an Insane World, instead. Confessions of a Street Addict should be read as a novel--not just by 'street addicts, but anyone who enjoys a damn good rollicking story.
on October 12, 2005
Confessions of a Street Addict really brings to light the career of James Cramer starting off as a struggling writer to successful hedge fund manager.
I liked how Cramer didn't focus on just his success. I really liked the beginning of the book that clearly showed Cramer's interest in the market, talking about the market and struggling as a writer in southern California. Cramer's story is inspiring and not sugar coated. As he eventually finds his way, he is offerred a more lucrative career path in New York and that eventually leads him to his stock market business where he meets his wife.
I liked how Cramer talked about how rough it was trying to get started in the business, how to succeed and how crule the reality of it was. Cramer doesn't wave any flags for Wall Street and doesn't make it sound like it's an easy, forgiving world out there. Cramer's story about his sruggles with TheStreet.com, his hedge fund, managing people, family and the roar of trading in the 90's really comes to life in this book.
I recommend this book because Cramer tells it like it is. He doesn't praise himself, he doesn't sugar coat and it was very intriguing reading.
As a pure addiction memoir, "Confessions of a Street Addict" stands out from the pack. Other addiction memoirs such as Jerry Stahl's "Permanent Midnight" or Anthony Keidis' "Scar Tissue" are great reading, but become annoying in their repetition as the authors make the same mistakes over and over ad nauseum. Jim Cramer on the other hand, pushed himself to the limit, hit the wall, bounced off, and simply walked away, transmogrifying himself into something else again, a successful journalist and pundit. What makes the book so compelling is honesty, Cramer is completely open about his successes and his failures, and there are a multitude of both. One of the most remarkable aspects of "Confessions" is not James J. Cramer, but his wife Karen, known on Wall St. as the "Trading Goddess" who nimbly steps in and saves their hedge fund in a few hours when they are something like a hundred million dollars in the hole. If you are looking for stock tips, then this is the wrong book, but if you are looking for life tips, or a glimpse into another type of addiction, then "Confessions of a Street Addict" is a compulsive, in-your-face slice of the modern market.