Cramer searched long and hard to find ways in which the market has improved since December, and he managed to scrape up a few key points. Granted, the U.S. economy and markets are in tough shape right now, so there’s little to feel good about. Citigroup has dropped to $1. Unemployment has grown to 8.1%. The White House’s spending plans are hurting entire sectors. And those are just a small part of the systemic problems we’re facing.
So let’s latch onto any good news we find, such as resilience in retail. Wal-Mart’s February same-store sales were better than those in December. Family Dollar and Big Lots also have said some positive things recently. If we were truly in a recession, Cramer said, even these discount stores would feel the pinch.
There’s also reduced inventories in semiconductors, which firming up some of the sector’s stock prices. Analysts just raised estimates for Qualcomm because the cell-phone chipmaker is doing better than expected. The problem here, though, is that this is no indication that the end markets are improving. In fact, Hewlett-Packard CEO Mark Hurd said they weren’t. Still, the Philadelphia Stock Exchange semiconductor index was up over a truly miserable December.
A couple of other positives: copper inventories are down, oil’s decline has stopped, and metal prices are on the rise – all signs of increased demand. And the fact that these commodities are fetching higher prices than in December is good news, Cramer said. This means there is economic activity going on somewhere. The fact that it’s happening in China and not the U.S. might dishearten some, but it’s welcomed stimulus regardless.
Lastly, there are still companies increasing their dividends even in this horrible market. Both Coca-Cola and Kimberly-Clark did just recently, and the underlying businesses are strong enough for us to trust they will make those payouts.
Beyond these few trends, though, things look bleak. Job losses, failing banks, a 40% decline in car sales, wealth destruction in the markets – they all outweigh those positives. And Cramer doesn’t think anything will change until President Obama reprioritizes. It’s not that the Mad Money host disagrees with the White House’s agenda. He just thinks it’s killing our chances of getting out of this mess. Obama should focus on creating jobs and stabilizing housing, and Treasury Secretary Geithner should come out of hiding and offer a solution to the financial crisis.
Without those things, Cramer said, we’ll just have to accept that things have gotten worse since December, not better.
Cramer's charitable trust owns Qualcomm and Wal-Mart.
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