Jim Cramer, the often loud and always bullish host of a popular CNBC show, is now bearish.
Cramer frequently tells his audience that he believes there is always a bull market somewhere, and it’s his goal to help them find it.
“But this time is different; it’s doom itself,” Cramer recently wrote in New York magazine. “In 25 years on Wall Street, I have never seen things this bad.”
Cramer is a former hedge fund manager who delivered a compounded rate of return of 24 percent for 15 years at his firm, Cramer Berkowitz.
His investment advice is always very specific, and he is also clear about what he sees over the short term.
“Sell everything. Nothing’s working,” he writes.
“Revisit when the prices are adjusted for a big recession, soaring inflation, and a crushed consumer. Sell at 12,000 and come back at 10,000. Even better: short it,” said Cramer.
Barclays Capital agrees with Cramer’s assessment of inflation. It is now predicting that headline inflation will spike to 5.5 percent by August, and the Fed will respond by increasing interest rates six times before the end of 2009.
The Consumer Confidence Index is also near all-time lows.
The Conference Board Consumer Research Center recently reported consumers' assessment of present-day conditions continues to grow more negative and suggests the economy remains stuck in low gear.
Looking ahead, consumer outlook is so bleak that the Expectations Index has reached a new all-time low, the group reported.
Cramer cites Wall Street layoffs as a sign of the troubles. More than 40,000 investment bankers and sales people are expected to lose their jobs at Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, UBS, Citigroup, and what was once Bear Stearns.
“We’ve had some tough times: the 1987 stock market crash, the collapse of the once-all-powerful Drexel Burnham Lambert, the immolation of Long Term Capital, the post-9/11 calamity, and the dot-com implosion. Every one of these events rocked the Street, causing pay cuts and layoffs and creating a sense of doom.”
A long-term bull, Cramer admits his bullish bias, “I am an inherent optimist about Wall Street. Every time I’ve seen one business go down, there was always a replacement business right behind it.”
But with investment banking, bonds, equities, and mergers and acquisitions all stumbling at the same time, he concludes, “Try as I might to see where new business can come from, I don’t see it coming anytime soon.”
He’ll be bullish again, after “a big recession,” when inflation is tamed, and the consumer feels better about the economy.
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