Carny Barkers

To receive a free full-text email of The Zeitgeist whenever we publish to the website, please sign up here. You’ll get two or three of these emails every week, and your email will not be shared with anyone. Ever.

Jim Cramer calls on 10 companies, including Amazon and Alphabet, to issue stock splits (CNBC)

“I think the idea of getting newer, younger people involved into the stock market who aren’t just brainwashed to put money into index funds is terrific.” 

“If you want the market to keep climbing, these ten companies — and many more — need to start taking their cue from Tim Cook and Elon Musk,” Cramer said. “Remember, the size of the price tag matters with this crowd.”

Sometimes you have to work hard to divine the Zeitgeist of the modern age.

And other times the Zeitgeist just walks right up and smacks you with a 2 x 4.

Or a sack of oranges.

I understand from my exhaustive research (i.e., Wikipedia) that in actual carny lingo, there was no such word as “barker”, that instead the hustlers and grifters who talked you into paying two bits for a glimpse of Zeena the Mind Reader and Molly the Electric Woman were called “talkers”.

Fair enough. To-may-to, to-mah-to. I’m fine with referring to Jim Cramer as a carny talker if you like that better, but there’s a punch to “barker” that really fits the bill here.

Yes, that’s heart throb Tyrone Power in “Nightmare Alley” (1947). Doesn’t end well for him.

Of course this has always been CNBC’s business model and Cramer’s shtick, to be nine parts entertainment for one part financial news/advice, but now we’ve traded the rolled-up shirt sleeves (gotta work hard and do your research!) for a carny barker’s striped suit and cane (hey now, step right up to see the egress!).

I mean … “brainwashed to put money into index funds”? AYFKM?

They’re. Not. Even. Pretending. Anymore.

Or as Rusty put it yesterday, the grift is now the thing. In the age of capital markets as carny show, we are told by barkers like Cramer that this is what a smart investor or management team does … they should look to the grift du jour for their edge.

For years, we’ve been writing that capital markets have been transformed into a political utility, but now it looks like that was just a waypoint in the metamorphic lifecycle. Kinda like the cocoon stage for a moth.

Or, I suppose, the chest-bursting stage for an Alien xenomorph.

Certainly that’s been the experience for value investors.

No, it wasn’t enough for these high-functioning sociopaths to turn capital markets into a political utility.

Today, capital markets are being transformed into a carny show.



  1. Avatar for rguinn rguinn says:

    Eventually one of us will work in a reference to the woefully underrated horror classic Carnival of Souls.

  2. In addition to the barkers, Carnys had Dunk Tank Clowns, shouting insults at everybody. That would be Davey Day Trader.

  3. Avatar for Trey Trey says:

    There’s also an opportunity to reference Bubba Ho-Tep.

  4. If Chins Could Kill…

  5. Avatar for al1 al1 says:

    300 for 1

  6. Stephen Colbert played a character on Colbert Report, he knew it, we knew it, but sometimes a sitting congressperson didn’t know it and hilarity ensued.

    Does Cramer know that he’s a TV character? Does he play the part or do people that know he’s a TV character in real life shove him out there to play the part they need him to play on TV? Is he a willing participant in this charade?

    I know he had/has a legit hedge fund and it is patently obvious his “job” is to dump the sellside bag on mooks under the guise of “infotainment” such that what he’s doing isn’t actually illegal. I’d like to assume that Cramer himself is the deep sociopath, but man… I’m starting to believe Cramer is the Level 1 mook to the actual deep sociopath and the audience is just downline scum to the upline.

  7. Perfect! Imagine if all of the FAAMG stocks traded for under $5, then the casino would be even more fun! One of the conclusions of Investor’s Daily, a group that has studied and created many statistics that help to navigate the markets with technical indicators over decades, is that 3 for 1 and greater splits have been signals of tops. Both in individual stocks, and when occurring across many popular names that are at large prices after big runs (today’s leadership), for the overall market.

  8. Avatar for rguinn rguinn says:

    Good find. And good grief.

  9. Rusty, just a quick note to say thanks. ET has been incredibly meaningful and important to me, even life changing I might say. I emailed Ben to tell him that 2 years ago but wanted to tell you directly. I’m a cheapskate and put it off forever but finally just officially joined the pack today. Thanks for everything you do.

Continue the discussion at the Epsilon Theory Forum

8 more replies


Avatar for bhunt Avatar for rguinn Avatar for JaneyVee Avatar for Trey Avatar for jpclegg63 Avatar for dompazz Avatar for rechraum Avatar for cazo97 Avatar for ikebellaci Avatar for rwgood Avatar for al1 Avatar for spiralcal Avatar for rodedogad Avatar for mondano

The Daily Zeitgeist

ET Zeitgeist: Raccoons Never Sleep

By Ben Hunt | May 28, 2021 | 5 Comments

Lemonade (LMND) isn’t just an insurance company. No, no … they’re an AI Company! ™.

Plus Chamath is up to his old tricks.

I hate raccoons.

Inflation as Ad Campaign

By Ben Hunt | May 24, 2021 | 0 Comments

An ET Pack member sent me this. Anyone else come across ads that directly call out inflation expectations? Would love to collect more screenshots like…

Many People Are Saying … Bitcoin is Art

By Ben Hunt | May 24, 2021 | 0 Comments

The Bitcoin Is Art thesis that I put out back in 2015 (The Effete Rebellion of Bitcoin) and recently put forward again (In Praise of…

Why Am I Reading This Now?

By Ben Hunt | May 24, 2021 | 1 Comment

Pack member Rob H. brought this up at last week’s Office Hours, and it deserves its own thread (as well as some attention from The…

Homeschooling Resources on ET Forum?

By Ben Hunt | May 24, 2021 | 0 Comments

I think a homeschooling VMPT is a natural for the ET Forum! On last week’s Office Hours conversation, ET Pack member Dan W. brought this…

ET Zeitgeist: With Enemies Like This

By Ben Hunt | May 21, 2021 | 9 Comments

This has been a bad week for Bitcoin and Bitcoin! TM alike. There’s no getting around that.

But whenever Paul Krugman and the Wall Street Journal agree on something … I want to be on the other side of that trade!


This commentary is being provided to you as general information only and should not be taken as investment advice. The opinions expressed in these materials represent the personal views of the author(s). It is not investment research or a research recommendation, as it does not constitute substantive research or analysis. Any action that you take as a result of information contained in this document is ultimately your responsibility. Epsilon Theory will not accept liability for any loss or damage, including without limitation to any loss of profit, which may arise directly or indirectly from use of or reliance on such information. Consult your investment advisor before making any investment decisions. It must be noted, that no one can accurately predict the future of the market with certainty or guarantee future investment performance. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.

Statements in this communication are forward-looking statements. The forward-looking statements and other views expressed herein are as of the date of this publication. Actual future results or occurrences may differ significantly from those anticipated in any forward-looking statements, and there is no guarantee that any predictions will come to pass. The views expressed herein are subject to change at any time, due to numerous market and other factors. Epsilon Theory disclaims any obligation to update publicly or revise any forward-looking statements or views expressed herein. This information is neither an offer to sell nor a solicitation of any offer to buy any securities. This commentary has been prepared without regard to the individual financial circumstances and objectives of persons who receive it. Epsilon Theory recommends that investors independently evaluate particular investments and strategies, and encourages investors to seek the advice of a financial advisor. The appropriateness of a particular investment or strategy will depend on an investor’s individual circumstances and objectives.