NEW JERSEY, USA — The studio looks like one of the subway stations beneath Wall Street in New York City. It even has the claustrophobic feel of the underground tunnels of the Big Apple.
This studio though is located inside the blocky headquarters of CNBC in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, overlooking the Hudson River across from New York. The studio is the place where Jim Cramer, the wildly-entertaining host of Mad Money, shoots his one-hour show.
The highlight of the program we had the privilege to attend, for me, was ‘chicken wings’.
One of Cramer’s executive guests that day was Sally Smith, the president and chief executive of Buffalo Wild Wings.
While most of the talk revolved around the sports bar and restaurant’s success as the go-to joint during football season, Cramer asked Smith about the talk that Buffalo was going to open 4 new franchise restaurants in the Philippines.
“Actually, that’s a franchise agreement for 5 new locations in Manila,” Smith declared.
“We’ve been working on this with a great franchise group over there. We’re very excited. They actually could have one opened by December this year,” she added.
What are the chances they would even discuss something involving the Philippines while we attend a taping of the program, I whispered to my wife. The whole thing seemed a bit odd and serendipitous for me.
Chicken wings and the Philippines
As for Buffalo Wild Wings trying their luck in the Philippines, that part is wholly understandable.
A report by the U.S. embassy’s agricultural expert in Manila last March showed that the Philippines is the biggest importer of food and beverage products from the United States in the whole of Southeast Asia.
In fact, Manila is the biggest importer in the region of poultry goods from the United States. Food and beverage imports by the Philippines from the U.S. in 2012 stood at $859 million. It is projected to hit almost $1 billion in 2013 and could double to $2 billion before the end of the decade.
While the report from the agricultural attaché is not official data of the U.S. Agriculture Department, it is considered authoritative by the food and beverage industry.
Cramer: My job is to help people make money
Back to Cramer.
He used to work for Goldman Sachs and has a bit of a cult following here, having recovered from the scathing criticism he got for touting Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers before both collapsed in ugly fashion in 2008.
He called Lehman a “screaming buy” on September 5, 2008. Ten days later at 1:45 a.m. on September 15, Lehman filed for bankruptcy. Lehman was the 4th largest investment bank in the United States and no one then thought it would go belly up.
Cramer bristled and complained he was treated unfairly in the fallout of the near economic collapse of 2008, especially the way Jon Stewart and his iconic Daily Show eviscerated and lampooned him for his stock picks then.
The guy I saw in the studio that afternoon was still bubbling with energy, but he seemed a bit more chastened by the simple fact that the market can make the smartest man in the room look like an idiot or a fool.
These days, he constantly reminds the audience to “study” and do their homework before buying a stock.
When the lights go on and he gets going in pushing his spiel out, Cramer is a dervish of motion.
On the last day of July, he had to pull together an opening monologue just after the U.S. Federal Reserve came out with its statement on the economy. He knitted it all together brilliantly, talking for over 10 minutes and making it all sound so coherent.
A few minutes later, he came out with a coherent argument on reforming the U.S. corporate which was insightful on how the politics would get in the way of producing good policy.
Bottomline, Cramer said his job these days is to help people make money.
“The wind belongs to those who do their homework (in studying and picking stocks) and are in the arena,” he concluded. – Rappler.com
Rene Pastor is with Philippine Commodities Digest, a weekly publication of New Jersey-based A & V Media that provides a comprehensive roundup of developments and trends in the country’s key farming and mining sectors. He is a freelance journalist who worked with the news agency Reuters for nearly 23 years. He graduated with a Masters degree in International Affairs from the New School in New York City and received a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from the Ateneo de Manila University. Rene is also a lecturer at Middlesex County College in Edison, New Jersey.