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Cramer: Why American investors don't trust stocks anymore

Cramer: Why American investors don't trust stocks anymore

As much as Jim Cramer loves eqities, he knows investors have lost trust in the stock market.

It was clear to Cramer that stocks are now a disgraced asset class when he saw a recent Bankrate survey that indicated real estate and cash as the most popular investments.

In the survey, 1,000 adults were asked what they would do with their money if they didn't need it for 10 years. A quarter said they would buy real estate, 23 percent said they would keep it in cash. Only 16 percent said they would put it into stocks, which was the same percentage as those who would choose to hide money in gold or precious metals.

"As someone who has lived and breathed stocks for most of my life, this is a horrendous finding. But it's not surprising," the "Mad Money " host said.

Successive waves of mistrust, abuse and fear have now become ingrained into the American public, he said, which has now caused investors to flee the market. For many years prior, stocks were regarded as the mainstay of a retirement account.

As someone who has lived and breathed stocks for most of my life, this is a horrendous finding. But it's not surprising.
Jim Cramer
Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Investors fears rose as tech stocks dropped precipitously during the dotcom crash of 2000, dragging the broader market down too. Many stocks still haven't come back. That was followed by The Great Recession, in which entire sectors were obliterated.

Even as the market bounced back, there have been major instances that caused investors to lose trust. In 2010 there was the flash crash, and in 2011 a decline prompted by Europe. Swindlers such as Bernie Madoff and banks that didn't play by the rules also caused some investors to be skittish.

The entire asset class lost people's trust, and hasn't earned it back, Cramer said. That is why the day after the Brexit vote was one of the biggest redemption days ever. People were scared and wanted out.

But that doesn't mean real estate and cash are better options. While real estate is perceived as reliable, it also lost a great deal of value in the housing collapse just seven years ago. As for cash, a 10-year time horizon sitting in a savings account will lose money versus the rate of inflation.

"If you can find stocks of high-quality companies with good balance sheets that pay strong dividends and have a bit of growth, I think you could crush the returns of those other asset classes over a 10-year period, provided you reinvest the dividends," Cramer said, "I just think you will do so much better in stocks."

Another option Cramer recommended is to put money into an index fund, as it can be held for a long-period of time and has low costs. However, he prefers a hybrid model. That means for a 10-year time horizon put the first $10,000 in savings into an index fund.

After that, he said to allocate at least every $1 of every $10 saved to picking individual stocks that include a mixture of high growth, slow growth and some income. The additional can be for higher yielding stocks with a modicum of growth. All dividends must be reinvested to take advantage of compound interest.

"The market may not be the only gain in town, but in the end, stocks are a crucial part of your savings, and I am urging you not to abandon them completely," Cramer said.

Cramer is confident that in the next decade, investors could do much better with his allocation than the ones on the Bankrate survey. That is not because he thinks stocks are good, but because he sees so much weakness in the alternatives.

So, while the other classes may not be disgraced, they're not the kind of alternatives that can rival owning stocks, Cramer said.

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