By James Cramer
Have you noticed those new
ads on television? No not the freshness dated ones -- hey I've been drinking months-old beer and liking it for years, shows you what I know. And not the ones with cute dogs or dancing bottles or place-kicking horses.
No, the ones where one of the Busches himself gets on TV and talks about how
almost broke the company but it came bounding back with a Clydesdale parade down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Roosevelt White House. Makes your eyes water with patriotism; Mom, apple pie and Bud all wrapped up in one.
What gives? This ad doesn't get you to pick Bud over
. You won't switch from being a Microbrewing artiste to a Cement-head because of this bit of propaganda. And it's not aimed at mustachioed milk drinkers, either.
No, this ad has one thing in mind: convincing a prospective jury not to vote in favor of a class-action suit against a beer company.
Unfortunately, it won't do the trick. In another few months the mass tort bar, those swashbuckling champions of the underdog, will set their sights on the alcohol industry. Flush with a war chest full of
money, and now allied with the states attorneys general, these plaintiffs' lawyers most certainly will train their guns on everyone who legally gets us high out of a bottle or can.
And just like the tobacco industry, which swore it would never have to pay, the beer and hard spirits crowd will eventually roll over and write billion-dollar checks to avoid the thousands of lawsuits these lawyers will file.
How can I be sure that Bud et. al. will pay even though no suits have been brought yet? Simply because the mass tort bar can't resist. Look at their record: They rolled over every asbestos manufacturer, they put
in bankruptcy and made
pay billions of dollars to them and their clients over the silicon breast implant fiasco, and they just crushed tobacco without ever even winning one big case!!! How could they not go after
and Bud and the hapless Philip Morris again? They've been shown the money.
For the first time since I graduated from
Harvard Law School
, I will use my legal credentials to describe how they will do it. First, they can get every Alcoholics Anonymous Chapter to form an immediate class of people who never got fair warning about how addictive alcohol is. Then they get the children of alcoholics to form a separate class of unintended-secondhand-smoke-like victims. A third class could be of people injured or who were related to people with injuries or who were killed by someone under the influence of alcohol. A fourth would be from parents who can't get minors to stop drinking.
Now, here's the clincher: The states attorneys general loved the publicity and feedback they got from their holy war on tobacco. And they loved those plaintiff's bar donations to their campaigns. They will now team up with the plaintiff's bar again, this time suing for all of the care they have to give to the homeless who are alcoholics and to those indigents injured by alcoholics that the state must pay for. Open and shut. After all did you ever read a warning label that said "Continued use of this product could leave you homeless?" As someone who was homeless at one time I would have loved to join this class -- if I could somehow tangentially link my homelessness to liquor.
How do you stop this juggernaut? You can't. Anybody who challenges these lawyers will be viewed as unsympathetic to the underdog, a real
. Stand up to these fellows and they will crush you. They are the NFL of attorneys. While beer is made in many states, it has few workers powerful enough to organize against the tort bar. And the biggest liquor maker, Seagram's is an unsympathetic Canadian company.
So, go ahead and advertise all you want, BUD. At the end of the day if the mass tort bar chooses you, get ready to pay. There's no stopping these guys; they're on a roll.
While Friday's decoupling was scary, a number of you have emailed me to point out that the bond selloff Friday may have been a giant headfake ahead of the big auction this week. If that's true, than the bullish case most surely will be in tact.
¿Look what happens when the highflying tech funds do well. The public showers them with money and they turn around, with absolutely no discipline whatsoever and bid up their favorites. They haven't learned a thing from their days in the wilderness. Too bad for the rest of us.
¿See you Wednesday morning on
. I'm guest hosting. Haven't decided whether or not to keep the goat.
James Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-chairman of
. While he cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, he welcomes your feedback, emailed to