Hopefully your financial portfolio didn’t include stock in Bear Stearns, but it might have if you had listened to CNBC’s Jim Cramer.
After it was announced March 16 that J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) was purchasing Bear Stearns Cos. (NYSE:BSC) for $2 a share, the stock plummeted over 80 percent at the open of trading on March 17.
“Dear Jim: Should I be worried about Bear Stearns in terms of liquidity and get my money out of there? --Peter
Cramer says: “No! No! No! Bear Stearns is not in trouble. If anything, they’re more likely to be taken over. Don’t move your money from Bear.”
On Jan. 17, 2007, Bear was trading at its high of $171.51 a share. Since then, it has been racked by the mortgage turmoil. On March 11, when Cramer posted the e-mail and his response, the stock closed at $62.97. As of 10:00 a.m. on March 17, the stock was trading at $3.72 a share.
Cramer frequently appears on “NBC Nightly News” and “Today.” On the January 22 “Nightly News,” Cramer was referred to by his colleague Carl Quintanilla as “one of the most influential voices on Wall Street.”
On the “Today” show March 17, Cramer maintained that “if you’re a diversified investor, you’re not going to get hurt” by the Bear Stearns collapse. “Those who only had their money in Bear obviously will get wiped out today. But you most importantly don’t have to take your money out of a bank,” he said.
Cramer clarified his remarks on CNBC’s March 17 “Street Signs”:
“Look, let’s understand two things,” Cramer said. “I said the common stock was worthless on Friday, as soon as this thing was at 36 because we saw a look at the bonds. If you kept your money in Bear you made out. You got the liquidity. Keeping money at Bear – I guess I could have caused a run on the bank and said take your money out of Bear. I guess people could say hold it, he’s saying buy the common stock. I mean, what the heck. I cannot cause a run. It turned out the Federal Reserve guaranteed the money. I’m not going to tell people to pull money out of these places. The Federal Reserve is guaranteeing the money. They are not guaranteeing the equity. I got a lot of things wrong in my life, but I don’t regret the fact when I said don't take your money out of Bear. If you have your money in Bear you still got it today. Remember, there’s Bear Stearns the common and that person was going to pull the money out of Bear. We got a guarantee. J.P. Morgan is now Bear.”