CNBC’s Jim Cramer: Mad About Money

CNBC's Mad Money host Jim Cramer answers questions about being a "Jersey guy" and let's us know what's going on in the world of high finance.

Jim Cramer on the set of Mad Money. He predicts a gradual economic recovery in the year ahead, but “nothing spectacular.”

If you were to question the inn-keeping qualifications of Jim Cramer, host of CNBC’s Mad Money, upon learning that he is the new co-owner of the DeBary Inn in Summit, no one would accuse you of being a sneering disbeliever. After all, since when is a ranting financial infotainer an expert on crisp linens and room service?

Regardless of how well Cramer, 54, performs his duties at the DeBary (which originally opened as an inn in 1923), TV viewers will count on him to make sense of topsy-turvy financial markets. That’s evidenced by sales of his latest book, Jim Cramer’s Getting Back to Even (Simon & Schuster, 2009), which burned up the Amazon sales charts during the holiday season.

The Philadelphia-area native moved to Summit from Brooklyn Heights in 1993 and has raised two girls—now teenagers—in the Union County town.

Do you consider yourself a Jersey guy?

I consider myself a Jersey guy with strong Pennsylvania roots. I got the house in Summit and the beach house in Ocean Grove but I am still an Eagles season-ticket holder so I can’t be considered 100-percent in. But I have strong roots in Summit, have served on PAL, am active in a lot of causes around town, and, most important, I and a bunch of friends just bought an inn in Summit, the DeBary, at the end of Springfield Avenue. And while I am relatively silent [compared to] the hard work being put in by my friends in the group, I would not be involved if I weren’t a believer.

Do you hate your real estate tax bill as much as the next guy?

I am appalled. I cannot look at it. Thank heavens it is buried in my mortgage payment or I would be furious on a monthly basis.

Is Jersey’s financial mess as bad as it seems?

Yes, in part because of a legacy that was left over by the profligate McGreevey administration, which will go down as the worst in ages. We need new industry in this state, and that should be job one. Again, I wouldn’t have invested in the community—the DeBary—if I didn’t believe a turn could be at hand. I put my money where my mouth is. Do others?

Any brilliant ideas for our new governor on handling the budget?

Here is my brilliant idea—wake up to the fact that too many people work for the state and not enough people work in private enterprise. And fix that.

Any Jersey industries you can get excited about?

I love our drug companies. They are innovating and doing fantastic things all the time.

Are there specific ones?

Celgene, right in our own backyard, might be the greatest drug innovator in our nation. We need to regain the ground in electronics we once had in the time of RCA.

What’s the smartest thing investors are doing now?

They are beginning to recognize the power of dividends. I devote a whole chapter in my new book [to] dividends, and it is the most popular chapter by a long shot.

What’s the dumbest thing they’re doing?

They continue to put a ton of money in bond funds getting low returns, and they don’t understand the power of compounding dividends and how they can create great wealth.

Looking at the Bernie Madoff affair, do you expect revelations about still more Ponzi schemes?
Or was that a horrible isolated instance?

I think that was a total breakdown of law enforcement, and also a rather unreal, almost Jim-Jones-like investor base that should have been much wiser to this nonsense.

What’s the most common money-related question you get from New Jersey parents?

How come it costs so much to send a kid to college? Everything else has come down. Second is mortgage rates. I think people should lock in.

What do you expect from the economy in the year ahead?

Gradual recovery but nothing spectacular—[there’s] too much governmental interference to get our bearings.

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