This column first appeared earlier Wednesday on RealMoney. Click here for a free trial, and enjoy incisive commentary all day, every day.
Psst, you want a good idea? Buy from the federal government when it does whatever privatization that it might have up its sleeve.
We're all abuzz about
, of course, as it should be when you are faced with one of the world's biggest underwritings. But let's consider the other merchandise the government's thrown our way. First, even though we've had a pullback in
, the government has given you an almost 30% return on the big underwriting it did to kick off the privatization of that bank.
But let's look back in history. First, back in 1979 the government provided a loan guarantee to
in return for stock warrants to buy 11.4 million shares of the automaker at $13 a share. With that guarantee Chrysler, which sold at $7.50 at that time, was able to get a private loan.
Chrysler paid back the loan in 1982, and the government put up the warrants up for sale. Chrysler itself bought the warrants back. And how could they not? Chrysler had appreciated 280% since the loan guarantee. You had to buy Chrysler to cash in, but cash in you did.
The feds created
out of a bunch of bankrupt railroads in the 1970s. In March of 1987 the government IPO'd the rail line, 52 million shares at $28. One year later you had made 8.5% despite the crash of '87. Five years? 192%. Ten years? How about 707%.
Citigroup, Chrysler, Conrail. Three successful privatizations. Three huge deals that you could have gotten in on. I know GM's been rationed out, but it has paid to take the other side of the government's trades. Everything at a price, but it is difficult to see how this time will be any different than those three historical examples of the government's stock market largesse to those brave enough to take it.
At the time of publication, Cramer had no positions in the stocks mentioned.
Jim Cramer, founder and chairman of TheStreet.com, writes daily market commentary for TheStreet.com's RealMoney and runs the charitable trust portfolio,
. He also participates in video segments on TheStreet.com TV and serves as host of CNBC's "Mad Money" television program.
Mr. Cramer graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College, where he was president of The Harvard Crimson. He worked as a journalist at the Tallahassee Democrat and the Los Angeles Herald Examiner, covering everything from sports to homicide before moving to New York to help start American Lawyer magazine. After a three-year stint, Mr. Cramer entered Harvard Law School and received his J.D. in 1984. Instead of practicing law, however, he joined Goldman Sachs, where he worked in sales and trading. In 1987, he left Goldman to start his own hedge fund. While he worked at his fund, Mr. Cramer helped start Smart Money for Dow Jones and then, in 1996, he founded TheStreet.com, of which he is chairman and where he has served as a columnist and contributor since. In 2000, Mr. Cramer retired from active money management to embrace media full time, including radio and television.
Mr. Cramer is the author of "
," "You Got Screwed," "Jim Cramer's Real Money," "Jim Cramer's Mad Money," "Jim Cramer's Stay Mad for Life" and, most recently, "Jim Cramer's Getting Back to Even." He has written for Time magazine and New York magazine and has been featured on CBS' 60 Minutes, NBC's Nightly News with Brian Williams, Meet the Press, Today, The Tonight Show, Late Night and MSNBC's Morning Joe.