David Swensen vs. Jim Cramer

Now here is an on-stage tussle that would be fun to see: Yale’s David Swensen vs. CNBC/TheStreet’s Jim Cramer. I am a fan of both men, which may say more about my ability to function while holding two opposed ideas in mind at the same time, but David Swensen went after Jim in today’s NY Times:

[David Swensen] criticized the approach of Jim Cramer, the CNBC host, who encourages investors to trade stocks in strategies that Mr. Swensen says cost heavily in commissions and taxes.

“There is nothing that Cramer says that can help people make intelligent decisions,” Mr. Swensen said. “He takes something that is very serious and turns it into a game. If you want to have fun, go to Disney World.”

Ouch, that’s harsh. Whatever your feelings about Jim, I don’t believe that investing can’t be fun — it would be awfully boring if it couldn’t be — but I’ll leave it to Jim to respond.

[obDisclosure: I’m conflicted as ever, what with being a CNBC analyst and a TheStreet columnist. Then again, I also own all of David Swensen’s books, push them on people regularly, and once fan-boy-ed out so totally upon spotting him at a conference that I barely stammered out a question.]


  1. I’ve read both Cramer (Street Addict) and Swensen (Unconventional Success). For the average person investing for retirement, Swensen is the only one worth listening to. Cramer is fun, but he’s not the first brick you want in the foundation of your financial education.
    I watch the Mad Money Lightning Round podcast, but the reason I can enjoy it is because I’ve got Swensen’s fundamental principles of investing rolling along in the background. What Cramer doesn’t say often enough is that the average investor should only playing the Mad Money game with risk capital. Still, I like watching Cramer. I just don’t listen to him seriously when it comes to picking stocks. Why would I?
    Glad to see Swensen do people a favor in this Sunday’s New York Times.