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The market sentiment has become more negative than Jim Cramer can ever remember in recent years. That is why Cramer decided to dig a little deeper to figure out when the market will have a real investable bottom and not just an oversold rally.
"Sentiment can't cause a rally on its own. Something fundamental has to change," the "Mad Money" host said.
In order to answer the question of when the market will bottom, Cramer referred back to the checklist he created on Jan. 11 of what needs to happen before a genuine bottom can occur.
Unfortunately when Cramer reviewed the checklist, not many boxes were checked off — even after the insane torture that stocks have been through so far this month.
After Cramer went down the list, he understood exactly why the bottom has been so hard to find.
He went down the list to share the status of where the market stands on each checkbox:
No. 1, the Fed needs to change it narrative that it plans to hike interest rates no matter what. The market cannot handle it right now.
No. 2, the political uncertainty needs to resolve itself. Cramer has watched the political dogfights that each presidential candidate is having right now and does not think it will be good news for the stock market, based on what he is hearing.
No. 3, China hasn't cleaned up its act, yet. Instead, it's gotten worse! The data has become more negative and its stock market is in bear-market territory.
No. 4, Cramer wanted to see a commodity bottom. Again, that has only become much worse.
No. 5, oil had to stabilize, and it has continued in free-fall.
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No. 6, the geopolitical situation had to improve. Cramer added this box in light of the recent news from North Korea detonating an H-bomb. That situation has gotten better, but the rest of the world isn't exactly a picnic right now.
No. 7, Cramer said zombie companies must be put to death. No companies have filed for bankruptcy yet, even with so many stretched balance sheets out there.
No. 8, Cramer was hoping for a relief from the strong dollar. Instead, it has become worst and the dollar is soaring against many currencies.
No. 9, there needed to be a healthy merger and acquisition market. Yet many investors think the time of deals has peaked.
No. 10, Cramer wanted a return of a healthy IPO market. There haven't even been any IPOs, and the ones that came out at year end have been crushed.
No. 11, Cramer was afraid that real peaks in the economy were happening. Cramer has been shocked at how bad the housing market has become and thinks we could be at peak for cellphones.
No. 12, there needed to be a worsening in stock market sentiment. This one is at least checked off.
No. 14, finally, Cramer had to see an expansion of the favorite stocks list. He was looking for an improvement of the stocks of domestic companies with no strong dollar exposure to benefit from low gasoline prices. That hasn't happened yet, either.
"You eyeball the boxes, and other than the negative sentiment, you simply can't make the case that we have any other box checked," Cramer said.
That does not mean that the market cannot bounce, but it does mean that there is still a lot of work to be done before Cramer is ready to make the case that a real market bottom has been put in.