Jim Cramer is not predicting a stock market bottom yet, nor does he expect to call a bottom any time soon.
“Can we have the recession first before we decide that we’ve found the bottom?” he told The New York Times this week.
“I want to see the things that typically happen in a recession before we say it’s the bottom, and then I will be more positive.”
It’s interesting to hear the CNBC stock picker being so cautious. It’s not his usual stock in trade, which until now has been certainty and considerably braver market calls.
Consider his recent pronouncements:
On Aug. 15, Cramer called a bottom and told viewers to go buy banks stocks immediately.
For the record, the market close that day was Dow 11,659.90 — more than 3,200 points higher than the bottom that was still ahead.
On Sept. 30, Cramer predicted the Dow would fall under 8,400 if Congress didn’t come up with a bailout package soon.
Then, Cramer on Oct. 6 told millions of television viewers of NBC’s The Today Show to “sell it all,” precipitating a 700-point drop on the Dow. It later recovered but closed the day down 367 points.
In the end, he came close: The bailout bill was signed a few days later by President George W. Bush, on Oct. 9.
The Dow closed Oct. 10 at 8,451.19. So far, that has been the bottom.
Referring to The Today Show comment, Cramer told the newspaper: “I apologized to my viewers. I apologized on the ‘Today’ show. It is a completely humbling market.”
Yet he stands by his views, even now.
“It was one of the greatest calls of my life,” he said, “and I’ve been pilloried for it.”
Problem is, millions of ordinary investors — the mom-and-pop types who make up The Today Show’s audience — probably won’t get back into the market soon enough to ride stocks back up.
Even if America’s folksy rich uncle, billionaire Warren Buffett, tells them it’s okay.
On Oct. 16, for instance, the Dow attempted to test its earlier bottom with a dip down to 8,577.91.
The very next day, Buffett told Americans to invest, saying that he was buying U.S. stocks. (Perhaps so, but Buffett is certainly buying foreign stocks, too, a new trend for him.)
Buffett acknowledged in a New York Times op-ed that economic news was bad, the financial world a mess, unemployment rising, and business activity faltering.
"What is likely, however, is that the market will move higher, perhaps substantially so, well before either sentiment or the economy turns up," he said.
"So if you wait for the robins, spring will be over."
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