. These are three small-capitalization stocks that got pushed on national TV in the past week that immediately became overnight sensations.
What do we do about this, if anything? What should the rules be? Should we never be allowed to mention we like certain stocks on TV? Can we only say what we don't like? Can we only talk about stocks that won't go up? Is there even anything wrong with this?
A few years back, I got drawn and quartered for mentioning that I was buying a couple of small-cap stocks in
. I got the whole nine yards:
The Washington Post
accused me of making millions of dollars off the readers; a guy from
said I had cashed the stocks in and bought cars;
magazine said my ethics were shameful and that I had no business telling anybody what to do because I was so corrupt. People accused me of taking money to promote these stocks. Totally untrue. People accused me of dumping them after the run. Also totally untrue. The government investigated every one of those allegations. But nothing ever came of it because I had done nothing wrong. Hey, big deal, just my reputation.
Now, just four years later, people do much worse stuff routinely. Every day. Heck, we don't even know if they are blowing the touted merchandise out after they tout them. And nobody cares. Nobody.
Certainly not the journalism lynch mob I ran into, let alone the government. Nobody says a thing.
All three of the examples I gave up top were far more egregious small-cap promotions because the power of TV is 10 times the power of a magazine article. (Unlike the above examples, on TV I said I like
, which is a $50 billion company. You can call it anything, but don't call it small-cap.)
Join the discussion on
Message Boards. I am not calling for investigations here. In fact, I think that those who gave these picks genuinely did not understand the impact that their touting would have. It is not their fault that people buy these things mindlessly after they are pushed. I don't want people to be regulated or crucified or crushed for saying what they are doing or buying while on TV. I agree with
: We are adults -- you do what you want. No one is making you buy anything. I think this is just part of the firmament, circa 1999.
I just don't want to be the only guy who has ever gotten hammered for it. And I want some guidance about what is right and what is wrong because I got news for everybody:
This stuff is not going away. It will be more prevalent and more ubiquitous. And I would like to know what the rules are before everybody goes overboard.
Right now, I know if I say I like a small-cap stock, the jackals will be at my jugular in no time. (That's why I never allow any questions about small-caps on my chats or on TV.) But for everybody else? Just fine.
Doesn't seem right to me.
We gotta have some rules on this stuff. Now.
James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of TheStreet.com. At time of publication, his fund was long Internet Capital Group. His fund often buys and sells securities that are the subject of his columns, both before and after the columns are published, and the positions that his fund takes may change at any time. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Cramer's writings provide insights into the dynamics of money management and are not a solicitation for transactions. While he cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, he invites you to comment on his column at