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On the November 8 edition of NBC's Today, while discussing "the falling stock market" with CNBC host Jim Cramer, co-host Meredith Vieira aired a video clip of Cramer's appearance on the previous day's edition of CNBC's Street Signs, during which he claimed that New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo "is about confiscation" and called him a "communist." Cramer had been criticizing Cuomo in response to news reports that he is issuing subpoenas to government-sponsored lenders Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae as part of his investigation into the mortgage industry. After airing the video clip, Vieira asked: "Now, come on. Isn't he [Cuomo] doing his job?" Cramer replied: "No, he's not doing his job. His job -- this is the New York state. This is not the federal government. He is making it so that the very institutions we need right now to provide money for people are gun-shy." When Vieira countered: "But they made a mess. He's investigating that," Cramer* replied: "So go after the CEOs. Don't make the companies feel like it's dangerous to lend. If you're trying to buy a home right now, the last thing you want is Cuomo attacking the people, the companies that make the money available for you to buy a house."
In a November 8 post on the Wall Street Journal's Law Blog, which included a video clip of Cramer's November 7 Street Signs appearance, lead writer Peter Lattman wrote:
If you're going to watch one video clip today, click here and watch this one of Cramer lashing out at Cuomo's investigation into the mortgage industry. Cramer called Cuomo a "communist" who is "going to shut down the mortgage market." "[W]itness the fact that right now, the most important man in America for the stock market -- the most important man and I mean it negatively is this guy Andrew Cuomo, the New York State Attorney General," Cramer said. "I'm getting tired of the New York State Attorney General being the most important man in America."
Cramer never attacked Cuomo's predecessor [New York Gov. Eliot] Spitzer, who was known to probe an industry or two. That's largely because, as Cramer acknowledges in the video clip, the two have a tight friendship, which began as Harvard Law School classmates. Cramer, for the record, never practiced law, instead taking a job at Goldman Sachs straight out of HLS. But he did dip his toe in Big Law waters, according to a Business Week profile, as "a miserable summer intern" at Fried Frank.
From the November 8 edition of NBC's Today:
VIEIRA: And now to the falling stock market: On Wednesday, the Dow fell more than 360 points and the S&P 500 had its biggest daily percentage drop since August. Jim Cramer is host of CNBC's Mad Money. He's normally pretty optimistic -- doesn't like to be Mr. Doom and Gloom -- but today, not good, huh, Jim?
CRAMER: No, there are too many things going wrong: oil at 100; very difficult to get a loan to buy a house; economy slowing; consumer not spending. These are all bad signs for the market.
VIEIRA: Meanwhile, the dollar is dropping as the oil prices are going up.
CRAMER: Yeah, and people can't go overseas -- it's too expensive. There's also a sense when the dollar goes down that it's a judgment about the U.S. economy. The rest of the world doesn't want anything to do with us right now.
VIEIRA: Well, let's talk about the bad news areas. You have three of them, really. Beginning with housing, right? That's number one.
CRAMER: This is a -- this is one of the worst times I've ever seen. Not since 1990 have we made it so difficult for people to be able to go buy a home: you can't get credit; people don't have enough money for a down payment.
VIEIRA: But some of that has to do with these sub-prime mortgages, doesn't it, and the big mess that was made there?
CRAMER: No doubt about it, we made mistakes, we're paying for it now. But there are many people -- there's 1.25 trillion dollars' worth of homes on the market, and no one seems to have the credit to buy them.
VIEIRA: But, look, I want to ask you about the New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, because he's going after the mortgage industry. After he announces that, you went ballistic. Let's take a look at what you had to say about Andrew Cuomo.
[begin video clip]
CRAMER: Witness the fact that, right now, the most important man in America for the stock market, the most important man -- and I mean it negatively -- is this guy, Andrew Cuomo, the New York state attorney general.
ERIN BURNETT (Street Signs host): Right.
CRAMER: I'm getting tired of the New York state attorney general being the most important man in America.
CRAMER: Cuomo is about confiscation!
BURNETT: I want to get to a --
CRAMER: Genuine communism. The Chinese are capitalists.
BURNETT: OK, I --
CRAMER: We got a communist.
[end video clip]
VIEIRA: Now, come on. Isn't he doing his job? Come on.
CRAMER: No, he's not doing his job. His job -- this is the New York state. This is not the federal government. He is making it so that the very institutions we need right now to provide money for people are gun-shy -- Fannie Mae, Washington Mutual. You don't attack --
VIEIRA: But they made a mess. He's investigating that.
CRAMER: So go after the CEOs. Don't make the companies feel like it's dangerous to lend. If you're trying to buy a home right now, the last thing you want is Cuomo attacking the people, the companies that make the money available for you to buy a house.
VIEIRA: So we're digging ourselves into a deeper hole.
CRAMER: This is all -- the barn door, the horses left. We don't go after these guys; we need more money in the system. We don't want to make bankers gun-shy. That's throwing gasoline on the Kingsfords. You do that, what will happen is, is that they'll be even fewer homes bought.
VIEIRA: All right, silver lining -- silver lining for investors.
CRAMER: All right. This is a moment -- the actual stock market, there are a lot of companies doing well. If home-buying, very bad, retail, very bad, why not put your 401(k) money to work when it looks most grim, that's when the most money's been made. Don't wait until the end of the year to make your contribution. Take advantage of the negativity now and do some long-term buying -- not short-term -- long-term buying.
VIEIRA: Oil as well?
CRAMER: I still like oil. I think oil goes a little bit higher, it is monster. You'll be paying it at the pump. You'll be paying $4 within the next six weeks.
VIEIRA: OK, I think Cuomo's on the phone for you. So, you wanna get it?
CRAMER: Tell him I said, "Hi."
VIEIRA: Jim Cramer, thanks. You can see Mad Money weekdays at 6 and 11 p.m. Eastern time on CNBC.
Correction: This item originally stated: "Cuomo replied: 'So go after the CEOs. Don't make the companies feel like it's dangerous to lend. If you're trying to buy a home right now, the last thing you want is Cuomo attacking the people, the companies that make the money available for you to buy a house.' " In fact, that comment was made by CNBC host Jim Cramer.