In a widely-seen segment on Friday's "Street Signs", Jim Cramer angrily called on Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke to lower interest rates, saying "has no idea how bad it is out there" in the nation's credit markets.
In the "Stop Trading" segment, Cramer said the nation's central bank is "asleep" and should immediately "relieve the pressure" on financial firms and the nation's home owners who are facing big increases in their mortgage payments as 'teaser' rates expire. Many thousands will "lose their homes," he warned. "This is not the time to be complacent."
About an hour later, he made a return appearance on CNBC's Closing Bell to soften his initial comments, making it clear that he is not recommending investors sell stocks. He predicted a big rebound for the major stock market averages if the Fed does indeed lower rates, and said he was upset by Bear Stearn's "complaining" during a conference call earlier in the afternoon. "I don't want to scare anybody," he added. "The Fed can make this whole problem go away" by lowering interest rates.
Since then, many other market mavens have said the Fed should cut rates to help ease the credit crunch. But most analysts think the central bank will hold rates steady when they release their latest policy announcement at 2:15 pm today.
Cramer appeared on the Today Show this morning to talk about the stock market and the Fed's policy meeting later in the day. He said investors should expect volatility in the markets to continue. He also made no apology for Friday's outburst. "I felt like I had to take an opportunity...The worry in the system is far greater than the talking heads would indicate. Someone has to be willing to come out and explain to the Federal Reserve how many people could lose their homes--maybe as many as seven million homeowners--in the next year. I think that is the crisis."