In normal times, I would open with a quirky sentence about how the title of this piece is hyperbolic, but we are not living in normal times. If I had written this article two weeks ago, I would have qualified the title, but last week, to few people’s surprise, a Goldman Sachs board member was charged with breaking insider trading laws. Most of this man’s actions took place at exactly the same time that American taxpayers were dishing out 100 cents on the dollar to bail out none other than Goldman Sachs.
The secret is out. There is no more hiding the fact that taxpaying Americans were robbed blind by the U.S. Government and major financial institutions. And what did we, the taxpayers, get for it? Two years later, we are paying twice as much for basic commodities and the employment rate has plummeted. It’s only a matter of time before the American people take to the streets—maybe not Middle-East style, but at least Wisconsin style. (The foolishness of Wisconsin protestors is another issue altogether.)
Where are people going to protest? The first two places that come to mind are right in front of Goldman Sachs headquarters and right in front of Federal Reserve buildings across the country.
Wall Street needs to come clean about its corporatism (government-corporate collusion) before things get out of hand and demonstrations become widespread and possibly even violent. And they might, I suspect, turn violent, because most Americans are unprepared for the extreme consequences of the Fed’s recent actions—namely, propping up failed institutions with artificial figures and funds. During the past two years, the economy has been supported by a Wall Street, easy-money bubble. But guess what? The money isn’t so easy anymore, and the dollar is being replaced as the world’s reserve currency. The Federal Reserve easy-money policy is not sustainable, no matter what Ben Bernanke thinks or does from this point on.
How can Jim Cramer stop this inevitable outcome? He needs, first of all, to come clean about Wall Street’s culture of corruption and explain to the average American how he or she is being robbed by Wall Street institutions and the Federal Reserve. As America’s most famous stock-guru and one of America’s most animated television personalities, Cramer, host of CNBC’s Mad Money, has a wide following and an authoritative voice on financial matters. People listen to him with care and concern.
I grant that Cramer’s audience is not, for lack of a better description, the average, working, taxpaying American. But his opinion on Wall Street-Federal Reserve malfeasance and misfeasance would make headlines in a big way, and these headlines would trickle down through various media until they reach large audiences. Cramer is capable of explaining complicated issues in simple terms, and his guidance and warning could be pivotal in bringing average Americans up to speed on the workings of our crooked financial industry. Cramer could ensure that American taxpayers, when they get angry and start pointing fingers, will place the blame where blame is due: Wall Street and Bernanke’s bank.
But will Cramer speak out against the Wall Street-Federal Reserve culture of corruption and collusion? Or is Cramer himself bound up in that culture?
The day of reckoning on Wall Street is coming, with or without Cramer. Cramer therefore needs to realize that telling the public the truth—even if that means exposing his own shady dealings or risking his comfy position as instructor-of-the-masses—is more important than anything else his job requires. While he can’t stop the coming crisis—is it too much to call it a “crisis”?—he can stop or at least delay massive demonstrations and potential violence by explaining the problem to the public at large. Other investment journalists who might have Cramer-like insights should also speak out. When the working poor are fed up with overpaying for basic commodities and, indeed, can no longer pay for basic commodities, they will, I’m sure, take matters into their own hands—unless Cramer and his ilk come clean about financial matters that most Americans don’t like and can’t quite understand.
We need capitalism, not cronyism and corporate welfare, determining the direction of our financial future. What are your thoughts, Cramer?
Brett Mendenhall, brother to Allen Mendenhall, cousin to Slade Mendenhall, writes from Atlanta, Georgia. He holds a B.A. from Georgia Tech and the M.B.A. from Georgia State University.