Suze Orman, Jim Cramer, Warren Buffett? Plenty of money advice around

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Jim Cramer and Suze Orman (amNY illustration/Christopher Sabatini)

By Garett Sloane

Whom do you trust with your money?

At a time when the economy and stock market have been turned upside down, everybody is looking for direction, and there are plenty of celebrity financial experts on TV and the Web willing to tell you what to do.

“When there is a period of marked stress, ... your everyday consumer and investor is looking for advice and is seeking advice more than they ever have in the past,” said Dan Simon, managing director of Cognito, a communications consulting firm on Wall Street. “There is no shortage of pundits willing to stick their oar in.”He’s right. The pundits have exploded from niche cable financial networks - CNBC and Fox Business - and they are now regulars on shows like Oprah and Martha Stewart. Every market move made by super rich investor Warren Buffett is front-page news. And who could forget Jim Cramer’s “dump stocks now” rant on the “Today” show earlier this month?

In the clamor, the message comes through muddied for some New Yorkers.

“It seems like one week, they’re saying one thing and the next week they say another,” said Vincent Madonia, 28, of Queens.

While Cramer of CNBC’s “Mad Money” might be the most outspoken prognosticator, he’s just one in a crowded field doling out advice.

Suze Orman

One guru credited for consistency has been Suze Orman, whose celebrity star has risen with at least three appearances on Oprah since the sky started falling.

On her self-titled CNBC show, Orman has drawn a following by dishing out get-out-of debt advice and counseling individuals on what they can and cannot afford. She is often parodied on “Saturday Night Live,” a true sign of cultural relevance.

One New Yorker spoken to, who wanted to remain anonymous while discussing personal finance issues, said Orman’s advice helped her get out of debt.

Steve Forbes

Steve Forbes, a giant in the financial world and former presidential candidate, appeared on the cover of his magazine for the first time, joining the national discussion. The issue hit stands Friday.

“At a time like this, credible high-level information is more prized than ever by serious investors,” said Carl Lavin, editor in chief of Forbes.com.

Warren Buffet

Buffett is one expert who is almost universally respected, and when he pored about $8 billion of his own money into the stock market, it was noticed.

The recent investment into storied companies Goldman Sachs and General Electric was like a battle cry by an old warrior amid a retreating army, though the result was not enough to turn the markets around.

Perhaps Buffet’s most noted talent, however, is his easy-to-understand wisdom.

Asked if he would take Buffett’s advice, Edward Burman of the Upper West Side gave an emphatic yes: “He’s an American icon.”

Jim Cramer

Then there’s Cramer, who was criticized for fanning fear when he appeared on the “Today” show screaming “sell” at the height of the panic. That rant had followed a period when Cramer was saying that financial stocks were good buys.

How do casual observers gauge what information is credible or not? The answer is dicey with the unpredictability of the stock market.

“All the so-called experts have been demonized or lost a lot of credibility over the last six months,” according to Charles Payne, a stock analyst who contributes to Fox Business.

Alan Greenspan

When even a financial wizard like Alan Greenspan comes out and admits his entire economic worldview has been wrong - as he did last week - “it’s time to turn off the TV and do your own homework,” Simon said.

That’s what Burman, a lawyer, said he would do now that “my 401(k) is shot. My E-Trade account is shot.”

Tags: suze orman , jim cramer , mad money , warren buffett , steve forbes , charles payne , fox business , cnbc , alan greenspan , wall street , personal finance , oprah winfrey , dan simon , carl lavin , media , manhattan , economy

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