People who watch our TV show often stop me and ask if the tension on the set is real, or just some sort of contrivance.
And the answer is: I don't know.
This stuff, this stuff of stocks, is something that I care passionately about. I think there is a right way and a wrong way to approach the business.
So, when I heard
Gary B. Smith
say he would like to buy
stocks if they go beyond a certain level and sell if they fall below, I had to speak out against it. I wasn't "supposed" to, in that it wasn't in the script. And it sure would have been easier if I'd kept my mouth shut.
You see, Gary was not in the studio, and the guy on the remote is always subject to ambush. But I disagreed vehemently with Gary's approach to this investment decision, and ridiculed it as "buy high, sell low."
If you didn't know any better you'd probably say that I was sandbagging the guy and that there would have been genuine tension if Gary had been in the studio, though things are much less brittle in person.
You get the flip side with
. I rarely agree with Herb, although his call on a big
decline was spot-on.
Recently, as I grew more negative on the market -- the take-it-off-the-table call -- we were more sympatico.
But then there Herb is, dissing the buy off the Nasdaq bottom, and I'm thinking, heck, that rise from the bottom Tuesday was equal to the whole rise in the Nasdaq in 1998! Who would pass up that move?
But because Herb is seated next to me, he can look me in the eye and notice that there is a twinkle -- I'm just having some fun with him.
I always think, however, that if it got out of hand,
, whom everyone thoroughly respects, would somehow patch things up before anybody came to blows.
Don't laugh. When you're talking about investing -- especially investing that goes awry, as it did earlier this week -- tempers flare and people get angry.
In fact, what bothers me about so much of the rest of business TV is its total absence of passion as guest after guest extols buying good stuff and selling bad, as if it were as simple as making a cake. But on the
TV show I don't think there's much risk that will ever happen. And that's why it's such a great show.
James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of TheStreet.com. At time of publication, his fund had no positions in any stocks mentioned. 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