Thank Meredith Whitney for the Dow’s 185-point gain on Monday, and the S&P 500’s 22-point bump. But not because she said anything revelatory, mind you. The market reacted positively to the bank analyst’s call simply because she had been negative all along. When one of Wall Street’s biggest bears goes bullish, Cramer said, stocks move.
Whitney surprised investors this morning when she rated Goldman Sachs a buy and predicted a better-than-expected earnings report from the bank on Tuesday. She had positive things to say about Bank of America as well, and the sector as a whole, but her announcement still came after a similar call by The New York Times over the weekend. Yep, even the Grey Lady beat Whitney to the punch – as did virtually every other analyst, Cramer said – so it’s not like she wowed investors with her foresight.
The significance of the call was a loss of standing for all other bears. With Whitney defecting to the opposite camp, the naysayers, including the media, lost their legitimacy. Cramer has talked relentlessly about journalists’ constant search for the most attention-grabbing headlines, which usually entail doom and gloom. But they won’t have such an easy time of it now, and that leaves more room for the bulls to state their case.
Cramer saw the chance to finally put problems like housing into context. The media seemed to predict that 50% of the 14 million mortgages issued between 2005 and 2007 would default. Do the math: 7 million homes times an average of $200,000 per mortgage equals $1.4 trillion. It’s an enormous number, no doubt, but here’s the catch: The banks have already written off more than that.
That 7 million number is a worst-case scenario anyway, Cramer said, but even if it were right the banks have taken those losses into account. That means the worst case has already been priced in, a fact that bears haven’t been willing to admit. But Whitney’s announcement today may force them to do so.
The bottom line? Here’s yet another reason not to quit, Cramer said, “because you never know when the bear on the other side of the trade is as exhausted as you are.”
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