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No bull: Jim Cramer says get out of stocks now

Tuesday, October 7th 2008, 12:41 AM

Squeamish over the free-falling economy, TV's "Mad Money" guru curbed his bullish passion Monday and shockingly advised investors to flee the stock market "right now!"

Jim Cramer, a former hedge fund manager and CNBC finance star, sparked widespread panic with his stunning "Today" show appearance just moments before the Dow tanked again.

"Whatever money you may need for the next five years, please take it out of the stock market right now!" Cramer, 53, told "Today" host Ann Curry.

"I do not believe that you should risk those assets in the stock market. I do not care where stocks have been, I care where they're going, and I don't want people to get hurt in this market."

An aghast Curry described Cramer's statements as "dramatic," considering the theme for his TV show is, "There's always a bull market somewhere."

Based on an analysis of the Dow from 2000 and 2005, Cramer is forecasting a 20% stock market crash.

"I've thought about this all weekend. I do not want to say these things on TV," a grim-faced Cramer said.

Cramer is still sporting egg on his face for recommending his viewers buy Wachovia stock just days before the bank went belly up and triggered takeover bids.

In an embarrassing mea culpa, the Harvard magna cum laude grad admitted to his viewers that he "screwed up" on the Wachovia pick.

"I let you down, 'cause I wasn't skeptical enough," he said, citing his interview last month with friend and Wachovia CEO Bob Steel, a former U.S. Treasury undersecretary who painted a rosier picture of his bank.

On "Mad Money" Monday night, Cramer attempted to water down his "Today" show comment, after getting bombarded by panicked viewers and Wall Streeters assuming he's gone gun-shy.

"Let me make it very clear for 'Today' show viewers, I'm not saying to sell everything," Cramer said. "I never said that, I never will say it."

He explained that investors worried about unemployment and a cash crunch due to college tuition or other purchases should take enough money out of stocks to cover costs for the next five years.

For stock market investors with more flexibility, he recommended they "ride it out."

"I'm telling you, we are now in a hope-for-the-best-but-prepare-for-the-worst situation," Cramer said.

"Selling enough to be sure you're not in a cash bind is not only prudent, it would be foolish not to given these uncertainties."


No bull: Jim Cramer says get out of stocks now

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