It doesn't matter what good news is released into the market this week, stocks seem to want to go lower. Investors are bracing for a possible rate hike from the Federal Reserve this month, and Jim Cramer sees the damage happening right now to equities.
But is it a good idea to join the crowd of sellers right now?
"I'm old enough to remember what the market has been like in the 10 days leading up to a rate hike, and you would get exactly this kind of action," the "Mad Money" host said.
Those who want to get out of stocks before the rate hike are selling, and cannot be stopped. The strength of the employment number last Friday was too good to ignore, and portfolio managers have reacted accordingly — which is to dump stocks in advance of a rate hike that could be perceived as very negative.
This pressure of the rate hike has gripped the market and is making it very difficult to own stocks. Cramer said he cannot blame anyone for wanting to sell, either. It has been so long since the Fed tightened, Cramer is willing to bet that there are probably no major fund managers out there who want to have big exposure to stocks going into the hike out of fear that the sell-off will be monstrous.
The second issue is the relentless obliteration of commodities. Many investors believe that the Fed is raising rates at a time when the global economy is falling apart. They use commodities as a barometer of how the economy is doing, and the declines are so massive that many old-timers think that the Fed is totally nuts to raise interest rates right now.
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The third issue is oil, and Kinder Morgan's butchering of its dividend to 12.5-cents from 51-cents. Kinder Morgan is the gigantic pipeline company run by Rich Kinder, who many had tremendous faith in. Last year he repeatedly told investors he would raise the dividend regularly. It was pretty much gospel to Cramer that he knew what he was doing.
The cut in Kinder Morgan's dividend was devastating to many shareholders, and it has left a whole group of investors that were seeking income totally crushed. When a CEO screws up this much when so many people believed in him, Cramer worries what the other companies could be up to. This move shook the confidence of those that rely on pipeline stocks for their high yields.
"What a disaster. Now all fossil fuel stocks are innocent until proven guilty, and while I'm not as negative as the others I don't see a need to own any of these names. I say sell them, but only into strength," Cramer said.
The fourth concern on Cramer's radar, are the tech stocks that continue to go higher without any new information. He worries that they cannot continue to go up every day, including his favorite group FANG — which stands for Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google (now Alphabet).
While profit taking ahead of the Federal Reserve raising rates makes a ton of sense to Cramer, he warned against selling. What if the Fed doesn't raise interest rates, or raises them once and doesn't again for a long time? Then investors will be forced to scramble to get back into the market, which will be difficult to accomplish.
"Even many professionals aren't that capable. So what should you do? I say take some profits, if you want. Lock in some gains — emphasis on some, not all," Cramer said.
In his experience, almost all of the damage rate hikes cause to the stock market happens before the rate hikes. If you choose to sell right now, you would be joining the crowd that is betting they can get back in at lower prices. And in Cramer's perspective, that is not a very smart bet to make.